OTTAWA – It was hardly a perfect game, but at the end of the night all the Buffalo Sabres cared about was walking away with two points.
Tyler Ennis scored in regulation then had the shootout winner as the Sabres defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-3 Saturday night.
“It was good to see us get pucks to the net and we got a couple of nice bounces and that comes from just putting the puck in good areas,” said Ryan Miller, who stopped 33 shots to earn the win in net. “They all count and they were a little bit dirtier Saturday and we needed it.”
Buffalo (32-29-8) is pushing for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with just 13 games remaining in the regular season.
Nathan Gerbe and Marcus Foligno also scored for the Sabres, who moved into a tie for ninth with the Winnipeg Jets. The two teams have identical records after 69 games, and are just two points back of eighth-place Washington.
Erik Karlsson scored twice and Erik Condra also scored for the Senators (36-26-8), while Ben Bishop made 38 saves.
“Overall I think we played a good game,” said Karlsson. “Miller played a really good game and probably saved them a couple of times and I think we could have come away with two points.”
The Sabres trailed throughout the game and were forced to come back three different times before finally winning in the shootout.
Miller stopped Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza in the shootout.
Daniel Alfredsson was the lone shootout scorer for Ottawa, but it wasn’t enough as both Jason Pominville and Ennis scored for Buffalo.
The Senators played the final 67 seconds of overtime shorthanded after Karlsson took a tripping penalty. Bishop made two great saves forcing the game to a shootout.
Karlsson gave the Senators a 3-2 lead at the seven-minute mark of the third as he took advantage of a turnover just inside the blue-line and fired a wristshot past Miller to make it 3-2.
Marcus Foligno tied the game 3-3 with his first NHL goal as his backhander deflected off Alfredsson’s foot and past Bishop.
Marcus admitted he would have liked to celebrate a bit more, including the Foligno leap first done by his father Mike, but since he wasn’t exactly sure who would get credit for the goal he restrained himself.
“It was just one of those questionable goals,” said Marcus. “I’m just really happy to get it in my second NHL game and contribute the tying goal. There were a lot of emotions that’s for sure.”
Older brother Nick, a forward with the Ottawa Senators, also had mixed emotions.
“I didn’t really know how to react,” said Nick. “I was happy and pissed off at the same time. Now that the game’s over I can say I’m really thrilled for him.”
Just prior to his goal Marcus got tangled with Ottawa’s Sergei Gonchar and the Senators Paul MacLean was disappointed that no call was made on the play.
“I thought it was a slew foot that led to him getting an opportunity to the puck,” said MacLean. “All in all it was a good game and very entertaining and we just have to move on.”
Marcus’ first NHL game was also against the Senators.
The Senators threw 21 shots at Miller in the second, but after 40 minutes the game was tied 2-2.
“Miller made some great stops to keep them in the game and they got the better of us in the shootout,” said Alfredsson. “I thought we played pretty good.”
The Sabres tied it 1-1 as Gerbe was able to take advantage of a screened Bishop. Ottawa then regained the lead midway through the period on Karlsson’s 17th of the season. Miller attempted to stop Karlsson’s sharp angle shot, but instead the puck bounced off his shoulder and into the net.
Karlsson’s performance was even more impressive, considering he had been a game-time decision as he struggles with the wear-and-tear of the long NHL season.
With 18.6 seconds remaining in the first period, Ennis tied the game as he grabbed a rebound and raised it over a sprawled Bishop.
“I thought Miller played a pretty good game and made some big saves on the goal line,” said Bishop. “It’s a little disappointing, but it’s a big point at the end of the season.”
The Senators took a 1-0 lead on Condra’s short-handed goal, his first in 30 games. Condra took advantage of a turnover at the Senators blue-line and broke in alone on Miller and beat him with a quick wristshot.
The two teams split the season series with three wins each.
Notes: The Senators were without G Craig Anderson (finger, indefinitely), C Peter Regin (shoulder, out for season), C Jesse Winchester (concussion, indefinitely). D Matt Carkner, RW Bobby Butler and C Zenon Konopka were a healthy scratch. The Sabres were without D Andrej Sekera (flu, day-to-day), C Jochen Hecht (concussion, out indefinitely), LW Thomas Vanek (upper body, day-to-day). C Cody McCormick was a healthy scratch.