Craig Rivet had spent Buffalo's previous 11 games as a healthy scratch -- an unhappy development for any NHL player but a nightmare for a team captain. The veteran defenseman got back into the lineup Tuesday night and made the most of his chance to play.
Rivet scored a goal and added an assist as the Sabres score three first-period goals and rolled over the road-weary Anaheim Ducks 5-2.
"There's been a lot of mixed emotions that I've had over the last month or so," said Rivet, who's been a scratch a total of 16 times this season. "But those are things I'm going to work through. That's the type of person that I am. I was battling some tough situations.
"I'm happy that I was able to come out and help our team a little bit. If I can continue that, it's all I can ask for."
Rivet got the chance to play because of defenseman Chris Butler's struggles -- and responded by scoring his first goal of the season, putting three shots on net, and earning a team-high, plus-2 rating.
"He played awesome," said rookie forward Tyler Ennis, who scored twice. "The last month he's been really supportive in the room, and has been a great leader. It was great to see him play well."
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff wasn't nearly as enthusiastic.
"I thought he was better," Ruff said. "I thought there was some defensive zone stuff I'd like to clean up."
The Sabres may have gotten some help from the schedule-maker. The Ducks were playing their fifth road game in seven nights, including a 3-0 win at Boston on Monday.
"They definitely had a lot more energy than we did," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, whose team never recovered from Buffalo's three-goal first period. "We didn't show that we had much energy or sharpness."
The Ducks get a chance to rest up after going 2-3-0 on the Eastern part of a seven-game trip -- they're off until playing at Los Angeles on Sunday.
"You never think that after a first period you'd be down 3-0. It's tough to bear," forward Bobby Ryan said. "You never expect it."
After the opening-period blitz by the Sabres, which included goals by Drew Stafford, Nathan Gerbe and Ennis, there were three fights in the second period.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf and Sabres center Cody McCormick fought immediately after the opening faceoff in the second. Five seconds later, Anaheim's Kyle Chipchura and Buffalo's Paul Gaustad dropped the gloves.
"It's all part of the motivation thing," Getzlaf said of the fights. "It was a fact that I wanted to get my team going. I didn't feel we were ready to play the hockey game in the first period."
The scraps made no difference to the outcome. The Sabres stretched their lead to 4-0 on Ennis' second of the game and ninth of the season at 4:40 of the second. The rookie wristed a shot into the top-left corner from the left circle.
Curtis Perry spoiled Ryan Miller's shutout bid by scoring a power-play goal with 4:24 left in regulation. Rivet made it 5-1 with 2:57 left in the game, and Perry capped the scoring with a power-play goal with 9 seconds remaining.
"I think we took advantage of a team whose energy level was low," Ruff said. "(Anaheim) played a heck of a game last night in Boston, and they had to come in here in a tough situation."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report