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Thomas Vanek scores in shootout as Buffalo Sabres hold off Ottawa Senators 1-0

The Canadian Press
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Ottawa Senators goaltender Brian Elliott (30) looks on as Buffalo Sabres\' Thomas Vanek (26) skates by after scoring during a shoot-out in NHL hockey action in Ottawa, Saturday December 4, 2010. Buffalo won 1-0. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand Author: The Hockey News

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Thomas Vanek scores in shootout as Buffalo Sabres hold off Ottawa Senators 1-0

The Canadian Press
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OTTAWA - With Brian Elliott and Ryan Miller stopping everything thrown at them, Thomas Vanek decided to keep things simple with his shootout attempt.

It paid off, as his slapshot beat Elliott and gave the Buffalo Sabres a 1-0 shootout win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

"Both goalies played great," said Vanek. "We kept shooting and we couldn't break either goalie."

Miller was perfect in net for the Sabres (11-13-3) stopping 32 shots for his second straight shutout. Miller has not allowed a goal in 148 minutes and 14 seconds.

Elliott was just as good with 31 saves, but the Senators (11-15-1) continued to search for their scoring touch.

Ottawa has now been shut out in their last two games and haven't scored in 178 minutes 30 seconds. The Senators have won just three of their last 12 and allowed 38 goals, while scoring 17.

"We haven't scored in a while and sometimes you overthink things," said Ottawa's Mike Fisher. "Sometimes it's tough. We're going to get our breaks, we're going to get rolling and we just need to work through it."

Despite the loss, the third straight for the Senators, coach Cory Clouston felt his team's effort was much better than that seen earlier in the week.

"The positive thing is we worked hard, we played right and we had the chances," he said. What we need to do now is continue that and bury (the chances)."

Forward Nick Foligno says the goals will come soon for the Senators.

"We're happy with the way we played and I thought we played really well defensively," Foligno said. "We did a lot of good things and maybe in the offensive zone we just need to bear down a little bit more than we have and drive the net a bit more."

The goaltending tandem of Elliott and Pascal Leclaire has been solid this season for the Senators, but have not been given a lot of offensive support.

"If you're not scoring, but you're not letting any goals in that's definitely a positive," Elliott said. "We've just got to bear down. You work for your chances and I guess we just need to work a little harder and get some puck luck and we'll move forward from there."

Sabres forward Michael Grier had the best opportunity of the first period when he broke in alone short-handed on Elliott, but rang his shot off the post.

Despite a lack of goals there was plenty of second-period action for the 16,364 on hand at Scotiabank Place—including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his son—to watch.

Elliott needed to come up big a number of times and was solid stopping Tyler Ennis early in the period before making a huge save on Derek Roy through traffic late.

At the other end, Miller was just as good stopping Mike Fisher and Alex Kovalev.

Ottawa's best chance of the period came as they broke in on a 3-on-1, but couldn't manage to get a shot off.

The broken play was a perfect example of Ottawa's fortune of late.

"You overthink things when you're not scoring," Foligno said. "It's just a matter of doing the little things and if we get some messy goals I think we'll see our skill take over and our confidence come back and guys will be able to make those plays."

The third period featured much the same as both teams almost seemed nervous to make a mistake in fear of giving up the first goal.

The Senators wrapped-up their four-game homestand with a 1-2-1 record. They now head out to New York to take on the Rangers late Sunday afternoon before visiting Montreal on Tuesday.

Notes: D Brian Lee was a healthy scratch for the Senators. . . The Sabres were without C Tim Connolly (groin, day-to-day) and C Rob Niedermayer (knee, indefinitely). RW Drew Stafford and D Craig Rivet were a healthy scratch.

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Thomas Vanek scores in shootout as Buffalo Sabres hold off Ottawa Senators 1-0