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Lehner starts, Conacher to make Senators debut vs. Sabres

The Sports Network/TSN.ca

4/5/2013 12:52:30 PM

(Sports Network) - Cory Conacher is expected to make his Senators' debut when Ottawa visits the Buffalo Sabres tonight at First Niagara Center. The 23-year-old rookie was acquired at Wednesday's trade deadline in exchange for goaltender Ben Bishop. Robin Lehner will get the start in goal for the Senators. 

With Craig Anderson's return from injury imminent, the Senators dealt Bishop to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Conacher. Bishop filled in nicely during Anderson's absence and went 8-5-0 with a 2.45 GAA in 13 games for Ottawa this season. Bishop posted a shutout in his first game with Tampa Bay and the Senators are hoping Conacher can have the same type of immediate impact.

The Senators received the 23-year-old Conacher as well as a fourth-round pick for Bishop. The 5-foot-8 Conacher went undrafted as a collegiate player at Canisius, but he recorded nine goals and 15 assists in his first 35 NHL games for Tampa Bay this season. He is second among NHL rookies this season with 24 points, leaving him one point behind Florida's Jonathan Huberdeau.

"I'm excited to meet everyone," said Conacher. "It's going to be a good thing for me and I can't wait to go there and further my career and hopefully have a nice little playoff run this year."

The Senators lost their second straight game on Tuesday, dropping a 3-2 regulation decision in Boston. Nathan Horton scored the game-winner in the third period and the Bruins overcame a career-high 47-save effort by Lehner at TD Garden.

Colin Greening and Andre Benoit provided the offense for the Senators, who have dropped two in a row since winning six of seven.

"It was a hard-fought game, but one that we're not used to because it was so much more open," said Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson about the 97 combined shots on goal. "We had our opportunities, came close, but their goalie played well."

Ottawa, which is tied for fifth in the East with Toronto, is just 6-8-3 as the visiting team this season. The Sens are making the second stop on a seven-game road trip tonight.

The Sabres, who are tied for 12th in the East and are five points out of a playoff spot, were sellers at this season's trade deadline, dealing defenseman Robyn Regehr and forward Jason Pominville over the last week.

Regehr was dealt to Los Angeles on Monday for the Kings' second-round picks in 2014 and 2015. At Wednesday's deadline, the Sabres sent Pominville and a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for goaltender Matt Hackett, forward Johan Larsson, a first-round draft pick in 2013 and a second-round pick in 2014.

The Sabres recorded an impressive win their last time out, as they snapped the Penguins' 15-game winning streak with Tuesday's 4-1 triumph at Pittsburgh's CONSOL Energy Center.

Kevin Porter notched his first two goals of the season to help back a 19-save effort from Ryan Miller that helped deal Pittsburgh its first setback since a 4-1 ousting by Carolina on Feb. 28.

Steve Ott and Cody Hodgson also potted goals for a Buffalo squad that had lost its previous four games.

"Hopefully this is something we carry forward," Miller said of the win.

Beginning with tonight's contest, Buffalo will play two straight and five of its next six on home ice. The Sabres are 6-7-3 as the host this season.

Ottawa has won all three meetings against the Sabres this season and can sweep the season series on Friday. The Sens have won six of seven overall in this series and three straight in Buffalo.