Defensive Challenge

Despite being short on defensemen, the Buffalo Sabres were able to keep one of the highest-scoring teams in the league in check. Trying to stop the Ottawa Senators isn't likely to be nearly as much of a challenge.

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The Sabres, with their banged-up blue line, look to remain unbeaten in regulation when they face the last-place Senators in a Northeast Division matchup Monday night.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Buffalo -160 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 6 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 78% of bets for this game have been placed on Buffalo -160 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

Buffalo (6-0-2) went into Saturday night's game with Colorado already without defenseman Craig Rivet, who will be out at least two weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Wednesday. The Sabres then lost defenseman Henrik Tallinder to a laceration on his lower leg in the first period, but held up against the high-scoring Avalanche in regulation of a 2-1 shootout loss.

With another strong effort from goaltender Ryan Miller, Buffalo was able to overcome the loss of Tallinder. The veteran's status for Monday's game is uncertain.

Mike Weber is next on the Sabres' depth chart.

The Sabres have allowed a league-low 1.62 goals a contest, and they have a good opportunity to continue their success on defense in the opener of a three-game homestand. Ottawa (2-5-1) has lost four straight, and scored fewer than three goals in four of its last six games.

Buffalo, meanwhile, has allowed five goals in three home games, winning each of those contests.

Miller, who is 5-0-1 with a 1.60 goals-against average, has started every home game for the Sabres. He came close to tallying his first shutout of the season Saturday, but allowed what he thought was a cheap goal in regulation.

Miller said Ryan Smyth hit the knob of his stick and knocked him off-balance, leaving him unable to make a play on Jordan Leopold's third-period goal.

"To work that hard and to have a chintzy little play be the difference to get it into overtime, it's pretty brutal," said Miller, who stopped 28 shots against an Avalanche team that came in scoring a league-best 4.0 goals per game.

Miller has not been up to par in 18 career games - 16 starts - against the Senators, going 7-10-0 with a 3.21 GAA. He has allowed eight goals in his last two meetings with Ottawa.

Miller will likely be back in net as Buffalo tries to bounce back after having won its previous two games.

The Senators, meanwhile, are off to their worst start since going 0-6-2 in the lockout-shortened 1995 season. Ottawa lost 3-2 at Toronto on Saturday night, and hasn't won since defeating Phoenix 6-3 on Oct. 17.

Shean Donovan and Dean McAmmond scored for Ottawa, which did not score on the power play for the first time this season, failing to take advantage of either of its two chances.

Senators defenseman Filip Kuba, though, had an assist on Donovan's goal and set an NHL record for defensemen by recording at least one assist in the first eight games of a season. He has yet to find the back of the net, but has 11 assists.

Kuba, though, has been limited to one goal and one assist in 13 games versus Buffalo.

He's on a defense corps that has not been playing in front of its top goalie. Martin Gerber is expected to miss his third straight game due to a pulled leg muscle, making Alex Auld again the likely starter.

Auld is 1-2-0 with a 2.70 GAA in three starts overall.

The Senators allowed an average of 3.12 goals per game against the Sabres last season, but went 5-2-1.

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