Steve Ott (#9) celebrates his first goal as a Buffalo Sabres(Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
Buffalo, NY – Steve Ott knew his first game as a Buffalo Sabre would be a special one. What he didn’t know was just how successful it would be.
The newest member of the Sabres roster scored the opening goal on Sunday afternoon, and used his grit and toughness to help set the tone of the game in Buffalo’s season-opening 5-2 win against Philadelphia.
“Honestly, it was a lot of fun,” said Ott about playing today. “It was nice leading this team out there on the ice.”
Ott got to the rink around 9:15am, but said that he is usually an “early to the rink” type of guy. He described the feeling of being one of the first to the arena Sunday morning as the calm before the storm, and that once he put the jersey on for the game he started to really feel a part of the team.
“I really felt like a rookie again,” he said. “I felt I was out there trying to earn my place on this roster; on this team. For sure, I was definitely nervous.”
Ott was introduced to the fans, along with the rest of the Sabres, before the game started, and received one of the loudest ovations of the day. He said it’s just a continuation of the great welcoming he’s had since being dealt to Buffalo in early July.
“The support I’ve gotten here has been impressive,” he said. “They (fans) have been so supportive.”
The 30-year old grinder scored a power-play goal 11:07 into the first period on Buffalo’s fourth shot of the game. He said that the team had a few plays set up, but he was impressed with just how well it worked, especially it being their first chance to put the plays to fruition.
“I was a bit,” said Ott about being surprised that he was left as open as he was in the slot. “That’s just the way it goes. There are five guys on the ice for us and four for them. Someone has to be open right?”
Getting that goal out of the way in his first game with his new team was something that Ott couldn’t have been happier about.
“To be honest, you always worry about how long it’s going to take to score your first one,” he said. “To get that monkey off your back right away, it felt pretty good.”
He finished the game with a goal, three shots, and one penalty in 15:16 of ice time.
Ott admitted that the team looked a bit stagnant early in the second when the Flyers scored two quick goals to take a 2-1 lead, but he felt that everything changed at one key moment in the second.
The game was tied at two when Drew Stafford took offense to a hit that perennial pest Scott Hartnell put on Tyler Ennis just seconds before. It was Hartnell’s second questionable hit of the game, he received a two-minute boarding penalty for his hit on captain Jason Pomniville earlier in the period.
Stafford went to Hartnell, dropped the gloves, and showed the toughness that many feel he should show more of on a nightly basis.
“The team really stepped up from what Staff did,” said Ott.
After the scrap, Ott sensed that the team really rallied around Stafford what he did for his center which showed a sign of togetherness among the players.
“We have such a great core group of guys here,” said Ott. “I really felt the unity.”
Now Ott and the Sabres have a quick turnaround – as the case will be nearly every game – from Sunday’s victory. They head to Toronto for a 7pm puck drop Monday night.
Ott admitted that he’s excited to get his first taste of the division rivalries that the Sabres have.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun every single night,” he said. “Just look at the teams you play in this division. You play Toronto, Boston, Ottawa, Montreal; every building is an incredible place to play. It’s going to be a fun ride.”
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