BUFFALO, N.Y. – Despite scoring twice in a five-goal Ottawa third period, Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson was happy to deflect any praise toward two players who seldom score.
Anton Volchenkov snapped a third-period tie with less than two minutes left in regulation with his first goal of the season, and Dean McAmmond netted just his eighth goal while the Senators were short handed in the third to start a frantic rally that helped give Ottawa a dramatic 6-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
“He’s our sniper,” Alfredsson said of Volchenkov, who also added a pair of assists in a win that moved the Senators within five points of the Northeast Division-leading Canadiens. Ottawa now has 91 points, and moved into a fourth-place tie in the Eastern Conference with New Jersey.
McAmmond, meanwhile, ignited the Senators comeback from a 3-1 deficit with 7:40 left in regulation.
“Getting that goal was huge,” said Alfredsson, who now has 40 goals. “That got us going.”
It sure did. Ottawa didn’t panic when Derek Roy and Jason Pominville scored 25 seconds apart early in the third to give Buffalo its first lead of the game. Instead, they seized control with a relentless forecheck, pouncing on every loose puck before letting shots fly on stunned Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller.
“Maybe it would have been better if it was 2-1 and we just grind it out,” Miller said. “We made a mistake and all of a sudden it was ours to lose.”
Christoph Schubert and Antoine Vermette also scored for Ottawa, which rebounded from a 7-5 loss to Montreal on Monday to win for only the sixth time in the past 15 games.
“It was a good third period for us, and it showed flashes of what you saw last year where we were outskating teams and outworking teams,” McAmmond said.
Roy scored twice for Buffalo, which lost ground in its chase for the eighth and final playoff slot in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres have lost two straight, and are in 10th place, five points behind Boston with six games remaining.
“We had them where we wanted them,” Pominville said. “It’s points that we’re letting slip.”
Miller, playing in his 29th straight game, finished with 25 saves.
Ottawa goalie Martin Gerber, making his 12th consecutive start, stopped 29 shots. He was pulled in Monday’s loss after allowing three goals on 14 first-period shots.
The Senators played without defenceman Wade Redden, who injured his hip against Montreal. Rookie Brian Lee replaced Redden, and made a huge stop with his skate at the goal line when Paul Gaustad tried sliding a loose puck into a gaping net with 14 minutes left in the second period.
Gerber improved to 4-0 this season against the Sabres, and was also helped when Roy whipped a wrist shot that went off the crossbar in the first period.
Schubert opened the scoring with his eighth 11:54 into the game, but Roy tied it with just under 7 minutes left in the second.
Roy then gave Buffalo its first lead with his 31st of the season 2:38 into the third, and Pominville made it 3-1 under a half-minute later when he converted Jochen Hecht’s cross-ice pass from down low.
After McAmmond cut the deficit to 3-2, Alfredsson tied it less than two minutes later with a rising wrist shot from the slot that beat a screened Miller.
“Everyone showed character,” Alfredsson said. “Going forward, we want to show what kind of team we’re going to be going into the playoffs.”
Notes: Roy left with five minutes left in the third because of a charley horse, but returned for two shifts afterward. … Buffalo D Nathan Paetsch returned after missing four games because of a concussion. … Lee made his NHL debut after being called-up from AHL Binghamton. … Roy extended his points streak to six games. … These two teams complete their eight-game season series on Thursday in Ottawa. … Gerber is now one win shy of 100 for his NHL career. … Ottawa C Jason Spezza extended his points streak to seven games with an assist on Alfredsson’s first goal.