Sabres clinch 31st following 4-2 loss to Senators

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Sabres clinch 31st following 4-2 loss to Senators
Buffalo Sabres goalie Chad Johnson (31) looks for the puck as Ottawa Senators forward Mike Hoffman (68) collides with the goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Matt Duchene scored his team-leading 27th goal in the Ottawa Senators’ 4-2 victory over Buffalo on Wednesday night, and assured the Sabres of finishing last in the NHL standings.

Max McCormick, Ryan Dzingel and Alexander Burrows, with an empty-netter, also scored for the Senators in a matchup between two of the NHL’s worst teams in the final week of the season. Craig Anderson stopped 32 shots, and Ottawa improved to 2-8 in its past 10.

The win upped the 30th-place Senators’ total to 67 points, five ahead of the Sabres, who have just two games left.

The Sabres became the NHL’s first team to finish 31st, following this season’s addition of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

Buffalo had already extended its franchise-worst playoff drought to a seventh season and will finish last for the third time in five years.

Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo scored for the Sabres in closing Buffalo’s home record at 11-25-5.

The Sabres’ league-worst 11 home wins matched a franchise low for any year, including the lockout-shortened 48-game 2012-13 season, when Buffalo went 11-10-3. Buffalo also went 11-19-9 during a 78-game season in 1971-72.

The Sabres’ final four home losses came against four of the NHL’s five-worst road teams: Arizona, which entered the day 27th, Detroit (28th), Ottawa (30th) and Montreal (31st).

Chad Johnson stopped 30 shots.

Ottawa scored three straight times after O’Reilly opened the scoring on a breakaway goal 30 seconds in.

McCormick tied the game 2:26 later by tipping in Mark Borowiecki’s point shot. Duchene scored 3:14 later by blasting in a shot over Johnson’s left shoulder after teammate Ben Harpur broke up Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen’s clearing attempt at the left boards.

Dzingel made it 3-1 at the 3:21 mark of the second period, seconds after a tripping penalty against Buffalo’s Marco Scandella expired. Dzingel collected a loose puck in the right circle and used Sabres defenseman Casey Nelson as a screen to sneak a shot under Johnson’s right arm.

Senators forward Bobby Ryan did not return after sustaining a lower body injury in the first period. He was hurt when teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau fell back into him after being checked by Buffalo’s Jack Eichel.

NOTES: Senators D Erik Karlsson stayed in Ottawa to be with his wife two weeks after their son was stillborn. Coach Guy Boucher said he’s not expecting the captain to join the team for its final two games. … Sabres C Zemgus Girgensons will miss the final three games with an upper body injury. … Senators G Mike Condon’s season is over after sustaining a concussion during practice Tuesday. … Senators RW Marian Gaborik missed his seventh consecutive game, and Boucher said the player is visiting a specialist to determine the severity of a nagging back injury. … Corey Syvret made his debut as an NHL referee. Syvret played for OHL London in 2006 when he lost a fight, decisively, to current Sabres forward Jordan Nolan.

UP NEXT

Senators: Continue season-closing three-game trip Friday night at Pittsburgh.

Sabres: Open season-closing two-game trip Friday night at Tampa Bay.

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