OTTAWA – The key for the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night was that they never allowed the Buffalo Sabres to gain any momentum. In fact, they took any momentum the Sabres might be gaining and used it for themselves.
Twice when the Sabres scored to tie the game the Senators responded with a goal almost immediately to regain the lead. Eventually they pulled away with three consecutive goals in the third period for a 6-3 win.
Daniel Alfredsson and Nick Foligno had two goals each in the win. Chris Kelly and Chris Campoli also scored for the Senators (25-29-10) while Brian Elliott made 27 saves. Ryan Shannon had two assists.
Drew Stafford, Thomas Vanek and Jochen Hecht had the goals for the Sabres (33-26-7) who had their two-game winning streak snapped. Patrick Lalime made 30 saves.
The Senators led 3-2 going into the third period but at 8:16 Hecht scored the Sabres third power-play goal of the night, allowing them to tie the game for the third time.
The tie was short lived though, as the Senators took their fourth one-goal lead of the game at 9:35 when Campoli scored through a screen from the outside of the faceoff circle.
“I’m still learning and I just want to keep playing hard and contribute and hopefully fulfill that need for a puck moving defenceman,” said Campoli, who also had an assist.
“Our goalie played great and made timely saves and we got those timely goals in the third. That’s the sign of a good team.”
Foligno gave the Senators a 5-3 lead at 15:16 and Alfredsson then collected his second goal to essentially ice the victory at 16:37.
“That was the game changer right there, just being able to counter any time they got something going,” Foligno said.
“I think that was frustrating for them and we were fortunate to make some big plays and were reaping the benefits of hard work. You have to capitalize on your chances and we did that.”
The Senators took a 2-1 lead at 10:46 of the second period when Kelly took a long shot from 10 feet inside the blue line that Lalime misplayed as he tried to glove the puck.
The Sabres tied the game at 18:15 just three seconds into a power play when Vanek swatted a loose puck past Elliott after Mike Fisher had won the faceoff for the Senators.
Just a minute 13 seconds later though, Foligno put the Senators up 3-2 when he scored from the top of the crease as he jammed in a behind-the-net pass from Fisher.
“We had opportunities to capture momentum, but I thought the end of the second period hurt us,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “We swung off a guy down in our zone and lost coverage and instead of us getting momentum off the goal we scored, we gave them momentum.”
The teams exchanged power-play goals in the first period with Alfredsson opening the scoring for the Senators at 4:44, only to have Stafford return the favour with a goal at 10:38 of the period.
Alfredsson took control of the puck along the side boards, saw an opportunity to shoot and beat Lalime with a wrist shot from just inside the faceoff circle.
Stafford beat Elliott on the stick side after Senators forward Dany Heatley redirected a pass right onto Stafford’s stick.
Notes: Forward Maxim Afinogenov was a healthy scratch for the Sabres after playing in two games since a returning from a 23-game absence due to a groin injury. … Forwards Daniel Paille and Andrew Peters, along with defencemen Teppo Numminen and Nathan Paetsch were also scratches. … The Sabres are off until Tuesday when they will be in Philadelphia to face the Flyers. … Christoph Schubert was a healthy scratch for the 13th time in 14 games. … Forward Chris Neil missed his 13th straight game for the Senators with a calf laceration. … Alfredsson’s first-period goal was the 350th of his career. … The Senators host the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday night.