for this game

Spezza, Schaefer help Senators cool off red-hot Sabres

Nov 16, 2006 - 2:54 AM BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- Jason Spezza and Peter Schaefer deflected some attention away from the Buffalo Sabres' red-hot start.

Spezza and Schaefer both scored on deflections in the third period as the Ottawa Senators put together perhaps their most complete effort of the season in a 4-2 triumph over the Sabres.

Buffalo (15-2-1) entered with a four-game winning streak and the best overall record in the NHL. The Sabres had been 8-0-0 when leading after two periods, but the Senators - who have been very inconsistent this season - put a quick end to that perfect mark.

"I think it was a really big win," Senators goaltender Ray Emery said. "Not so much the points in the standings, just to get back on a positive track, get the feeling we can win close games like that, especially against a good team.

"As an underdog coming in against the big bad Sabres, it's that much more incentive, that much more motivation. I think you saw that we played with a lot of intensity and we played it like a playoff game, partly because of our struggles this year but also because we respect Buffalo as a team."

Ottawa trailed, 2-1, going into the final session before Spezza netted a power-play goal - his ninth tally of the season - at 6:32 when he tipped home a shot by defenseman Andrej Meszaros.

The Senators snapped the deadlock with 7:11 remaining when captain Daniel Alfedsson sent a shot to the front of the net that Schaefer got a piece of on its way past goaltender Martin Biron. The play was reviewed to see if Schaefer's stick was above the crossbar, but the original ruling was upheld.

"I was excited be out on the ice, get a win, know we had a chance of winning the game the way things have been going here," Schaefer said. "This is something to get excited about. We haven't had much to be excited about."

"It came in a funny way, kind of came in high to low," Biron said. "Those are the bounces teams need sometimes."

Defenseman Chris Phillips added a shorthanded empty-netter with 57 seconds left for Ottawa, which had lost six of its last seven games. The Senators had dropped their only meeting with the Sabres this season - a 4-3 defeat on October 7 - after getting upset by Buffalo in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season.

"What I said to the guys at the end of the second (period) was it was a chance to be a real character win," Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said. "It's said we can't win one-goal games, we can't do this in the third period, we don't score when we have a chance - and we did all that."

Emery (hand) also came up with a strong effort in his first game since October 31, turning aside 27 shots, including all 11 that came his way in the third period.

"It felt good, a little rusty and a little funny, (my) wrist," Emery said. "I just wanted to play solid and knew with the team (we have), that all it takes just playing solid, not letting in any soft goals."

Sabres captain Daniel Briere opened the scoring 5:36 into the contest with his eighth goal of the season. Chris Neil answered for Ottawa exactly four minutes later, beating Biron from a sharp angle for a power-play goal.

Biron finished with 19 saves and Thomas Vanek scored the other goal for Buffalo, which went 0-for-6 on the power play and allowed a pair of man-advantage goals.

"We knew we were going to be in it tough," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "The schedule was against us, the amount of minutes we have to play some guys is against us, and it doesn't get any easier. We're just going to have to keep grinding it out."

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