OTTAWA -- Late in the second period of a game the Ottawa Senators were trailing, their coaching staff played a hunch.
On the suggestion of assistant coach Mark Reeds, Senators coach Dave Cameron put Jean-Gabriel Pageau between Ryan and Mike Hoffman, and Ryan scored his second with 1:19 to go in the period to tie the game 2-2.
"It was Mark Reeds that mentioned he thought that Pageau had a real jump tonight," Cameron said. "We knew that Bobby and [Hoffman] were going well, so it was a logical choice. I think they scored right off the hop, and they just kept going. So it was a hunch, and I've got to give [Reeds] credit for that one."
Ryan completed his fourth NHL hat trick, first with the Senators, at 3:02 of the third period for a 3-2 lead. Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson carried the puck into the Buffalo zone on the right wing and sent a pass to Ryan in the slot. His wrist shot found the top of the net.
Ryan's game started slowly; he missed a great chance when he was alone in front of the Buffalo net seven minutes into the first period.
"When I got the opportunity that I missed early, usually you get a second and third there," said Ryan, who had eight shots. "Even though you're mad at yourself and you're kicking yourself getting back to the bench, I had a feeling if I stuck with it and got back to those areas, the puck was going to come there, and when you get there, it's amazing, you get rewarded.
"I felt like I haven't been able to get into those areas much, and tonight I found a way, I guess."
Clarke MacArthur, with his second goal in his past two games after not scoring in 16, made it 4-2 at 11:54 of the third. Ottawa forward Colin Greening was awarded the fifth goal, his first of the season, when he was heading to the empty net and was pulled down by Buffalo defenseman Nikita Zadorov with 2 seconds left.
The Senators outshot the Sabres 36-21, the third game in row they have gotten the better of their opponent, their longest streak of the season.
"This is an opportunity for us to start stringing them together, and to do it in that fashion, to shut them down when we had that one-goal, two-goal lead was huge for us," Ryan said. "Hopefully it's a building part."
"I'm bored back there," Anderson said. "No, it's good to see. That means we're getting out of our zone smoothly and quickly, with a first pass from our D-men. That means we're skating, coming back and supporting the puck.
"Seeing a low shot count means a lot of good things for us. That's what we like to see.
"Moving forward, not every game is going to be like that. But if the majority of the games are like this, giving up low shots, we're going to be sitting on the winning side of a lot more games."
The Senators (15-14-7) are 4-3-2 under Cameron, who took over from Paul MacLean on Dec. 8.
Pageau, 22, was called up from Binghamton of the American Hockey League on Dec. 14 when forwards Chris Neil and Zack Smith were injured and Curtis Lazar was loaned to Canada for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The shakeup of lines saw Mika Zibanejad, who had been skating with Ryan and Hoffman, wind up with Erik Condra and Colin Greening. David Legwand, who had been with Condra and Greening, centered Milan Michalek and Alex Chiasson.
But Buffalo looked like it ran out of gas in the third period. Coach Ted Nolan gave his players some credit for battling through injuries and illness, but wasn't happy with a failure to harass Ottawa's stars. He mentioned Karlsson and Ryan getting too much room.
"It was a soft night," Nolan said. "In front of our net, we didn't hit anybody and we didn't make it tough on their players at all. When you don't make it tough, it's an easy game, especially for skilled guys like Ryan and others.
"Tonight was just one of those uncharacteristic nights for us. We didn't finish any hits. I don't know if we got any hits at all. We didn't play physical. We didn't have too much energy. It's that time of season when our team is gutting through some stuff. We're not playing 100 percent right now."
The Senators held the Sabres to two shots in the third period.
"I don't know if we had as much energy and or if we could have competed harder, but they outplayed us in the third period," Sabres forward Tyler Ennis said.
"We're a hitting team. We stress that a lot. We can't fly by pucks. We have to stop on pucks. We have to hit. That's the kind of team we are. We're not fancy. We're hard workers."
Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki was a late scratch after the team said he sustained "a laceration to his left leg during activities prior to warm-up." Borowiecki's spot in the lineup was taken by Patrick Wiercioch.
Cameron said he expected Borowiecki, a rookie who had played himself into a regular job, to be out "for a while, I think."
The Senators are off until they play at the Boston Bruins on Saturday.