Drew Stafford just wouldn't take no for an answer on Saturday night.
Stafford scored three times, including the overtime-forcing goal with 28 seconds left in regulation, as the Sabres rallied from a 4-2 first-period deficit and pulled out a dramatic 7-6 win against the Boston Bruins on Tyler Ennis' decisive shootout tally.
"You don't want to fold up when you're down. It's not in your game plan," said Stafford, who has four career hat tricks -- two in his last eight games. "We knew if we kept battling, we had a chance to take this game."
The wild finish at HSBC Arena overshadowed the mistakes Buffalo made early, as the Sabres allowed four goals on the first 11 shots.
Jason Pominville had two goals and two assists, and Thomas Vanek had a goal and assist as the Sabres improved to 4-0 in shootouts this season. They won consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 3-4.
Stafford forced overtime by scoring in the closing seconds of a game that featured three lead changes.
After Ennis gave the Sabres a 3-2 lead in the shootout, Zdeno Chara lost control of the puck and shot wide on the Bruins' final chance.
Chara had a goal and assist, and four Bruins defensemen scored in a game for the first time. Joining Chara were blueliners Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg and Steven Kampfer with a goal each.
Tyler Seguin had a goal and assist, and Brad Marchand also scored for the Northeast Division-leading Bruins, 3-0-2 in their past five. Boston lost for the fourth time (19-1-3) in a game in which it led this season.
"With the leads we had, we should have won the game easily," Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said.
Thomas stopped 16 shots over the final two periods and overtime in place of Tuukka Rask, who was pulled after allowing three goals on 16 shots in the first period. Thomas didn't stop a shot during the shootout, allowing Pominville, Vanek and Ennis to score.
Bruins coach Claude Julien switched goalies because Rask was fighting the puck. That was particularly the case on Stafford's first goal, which cut the Bruins lead to 4-3 in the final minute of the first period.
Catching Rask cheating off the right post, Stafford attempted to squeeze in a shot from a bad angle. Rask caught a piece of it and had dropped down to cover the puck, as Stafford got his stick in to shove the puck over the line.
Thomas had a tough night, too. Stafford forced overtime by digging the puck out of a scrum in front of the Bruins net, and lifted it over Thomas, who was attempting to scramble back into position.
"It's not an easy game to watch from behind the bench," Julien said. "At the end, we didn't handle that well at all."
The Sabres were forced in a position to have to rally again after they squandered a 5-4 lead entering the third period. Seguin and Kampfer scored 3:58 apart.
"To come out in the third too passive, there's still areas we need to be better," Vanek said. "But at the same time, I think we showed some guts to come back and keep fighting."
Maple Leafs 5, Senators 1 | HIGHLIGHTS
Tyler Bozak scored two goals and James Reimer made 32 saves in his first NHL start as Toronto cruised past Ottawa at Scotiabank Place.
Rookie Darryl Boyce scored his first NHL goal and Clarke MacArthur and Luke Schenn also tallied for the Maple Leafs, who led 5-0 just over 5 minutes into the second.
"It's always easier to play when you have a lead, especially when it's 3-0, 4-0, 5-0," said Reimer, whose wife flew in from Vancouver earlier Saturday. "You know there's not as much pressure on you so you can relax a little more."
Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said he decided two days earlier to start Reimer, whose parents and sister were also in the crowd.
"He knew about it," Wilson said. "I certainly wasn't going to share that with the piranhas in our media that would maybe upset him a little bit, and he was able to calmly go about his business and be ready for the game."
Joey Crabb and Phil Kessel assisted on a pair of goals by Bozak 2:57 apart in the first period, and the Maple Leafs won for the second time in six games. Tomas Kaberle also had two assists.
"We had a tough couple of losses in our last two games," Bozak said. "Both games we thought we could have won so it was big for us to come out here and get a lead, and then not sit back but build on that lead."
Sergei Gonchar scored a power-play goal later in the second for Ottawa, which lost its third in a row (0-2-1).
"It was absolutely frustrating," left wing Nick Foligno said. "We don't know for what reason the game got so out of hand but it's tough to deal with, obviously."
Brian Elliott stopped four of seven shots before he was replaced 16:10 into the game. Mike Brodeur made 12 saves in relief.
MacArthur opened the scoring at 1:57. He spun around to drive a shot past Elliott for his 10th goal.
Kessel stripped the puck off defenseman Erik Karlsson and passed it to Crabb to begin the play that led to Toronto's second goal. Crabb drove into the Senators' zone and passed the puck back to Bozak, who fired a shot past Elliott from the slot at 12:24.
Bozak struck again at 15:21, combining with his linemates again to make it 3-0. Boyce, who got an assist in his season debut on Thursday, made it 4-0 when he beat Brodeur 3:18 into the second for his first goal. Schenn's second of the season made it 5-0 at 5:46.
Reimer made 11 saves in the first, 10 in the second -- when he was beaten for Gonchar's fifth goal -- and 11 more in the third. He stopped each of the four shots he faced in his debut on Dec. 20, when he relieved Jonas Gustavsson in Toronto's 6-3 loss to Atlanta.
Hurricanes 6, Devils 3 | HIGHLIGHTS
Rookie Jeff Skinner and Sergei Samsonov scored two goals apiece as Carolina won its third straight with a victory against New Jersey at the RBC Center.
"He's playing like he trying to prove that he can play center ice in the NHL," Maurice said of Skinner, "and it looks like he's going to be able to do it."
Tuomo Ruutu added a goal and three assists, rookie Zac Dalpe scored his first NHL goal, and Joe Corvo, Jamie McBain and Chad LaRose each had two assists for the Hurricanes. Carolina chased goalie Martin Brodeur with three goals in the first 8 minutes, stretched the lead to 4-0, matched a season high with three power-play goals, and snapped a two-game losing streak at home.
"We kept it simple ... and when we've kept it simple, we've scored a lot of goals," Ruutu said. "When you spend a lot of time in their defensive end, they're not going to score as many goals."
Patrik Elias had a goal and an assist, and Rod Pelley and Travis Zajac and scored for New Jersey. The Devils, who have an NHL-worst 22 points, have lost 13 of 16 and 10 straight on the road.
"We played good at times, but it wasn't a 60-minute effort," Zajac said. "It's a step back. We had some good spurts during the game, and we showed that when we do play well, we can compete with any team, I think, and not just compete, but we controlled parts of the games."
Brodeur stopped just four shots before he was pulled for Johan Hedberg, who made 15 saves. Elias scored 2 1/2 minutes into the third period to make it 5-3, but Cam Ward was impenetrable after that in his third straight win.
Ward finished with 25 saves for Carolina, which also scored three times on the power play on Nov. 9 against Edmonton and Nov. 26 against Boston.
Both of Samsonov's goals came on the power play. He went to the backhand to tap in the rebound of Corvo's slap shot to make it 3-0 in the first, before hammering in a rebound on a 5-on-3 advantage to make it 5-2 midway through the second. That gave him his first multigoal game in nearly a year.
Skinner entered with 26 points, one fewer than San Jose's Logan Couture, who leads all rookies. He polished off the second two-goal game of his young career by scoring on a wrist shot with 2:26 remaining.
He's unquestionably the best of a bunch of Carolina rookies that "always bring that enthusiasm, that energy, and it gets us going, as well," Ruutu said.
Hedberg made 28 saves as the Devils beat Atlanta 3-1 on Friday night to snap New Jersey's six-game losing streak and give Jacques Lemaire his first victory in his third stint as their coach. They are 1-7-0 in the second of back-to-back games this season.
The Hurricanes wasted little time in jumping on the Devils, putting three of their first seven shots past Brodeur. Carolina converted on two early power plays against a penalty-killing unit that had allowed only one goal in six games.
The penalty kill "has been pretty good all year, but they got a couple lucky goals," Zajac said. "They tipped the first one, which it's a tough one to defend against, and it's bound to happen. Teams are bound to get goals against them, goals for them on the power play, but I think we were in penalty trouble too much during the game."
Corvo made the key play on the first goal, holding in New Jersey's clearing attempt and skating along the blue line before flinging the puck toward the net for Ruutu to deflect past Brodeur at 1:48.
Skinner backhanded in the rebound of Tim Gleason's snap shot 2 1/2 minutes later. When Samsonov scored his first goal with 12 minutes left, the winningest goalie in NHL history was yanked from the game.
"That's the goal every game, to get out to a good start," Skinner said. "I think we did that by having short shifts, getting the puck in deep early. ... (The three early goals) are a credit to the guys working hard down low, getting the pucks back to the point and just finding those rebounds."
By the time Dalpe snapped the puck past Hedberg to make it 4-0 with 6:18 left in the first, the Hurricanes had as many goals as the Devils had shots.
"We get a couple penalties, they get two goals," Lemaire said. "They get the momentum, they're on our heels. ... It's that simple."
Lightning 2, Rangers 1 (OT) | HIGHLIGHTS
Nate Thompson scored 19 seconds into the extra session to help the Lightning beat the Rangers at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Thompson, racing down the slot, fired home a pass from the left wing boards by Tyrell for the win.
"We made it happen differently, but these are emotional buildup moments that are important in a season, especially when you have guys like Tyrell and Thompson making it happen," Boucher said.
The Rangers forced overtime when Marian Gaborik tied it from the low slot with 45.6 seconds left in regulation.
"It gives you a boost of confidence to get that goal late in the game," Gaborik said.
Gaborik entered with just two goals in 10 games.
"It's important that he scored the goal, but we're going to need more out of him," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. Hopefully, that will help with his confidence. He's an important guy for us and we're going to need him as this gets tougher in the second half of the year."
Tampa Bay is 18-0-1 when ahead after two periods.
"It's tough whenever you give up a goal in the last minute like that," Thompson said. "But we just had to reload and refocus and remember there was still hockey left to play."
Tampa Bay rookie Cedrick Desjardins, recalled from Norfolk of the AHL on Dec. 20, made 34 saves to win his second consecutive start.
"I was just having fun finding every shot," Desjardins said. "I was in the zone."
His fun ended quickly, however: After the game, the Lightning acquired 41-year old goalie Dwayne Roloson from the New York Islanders for minor-league defenseman Ty Wishart. Boucher said the trade means Desjardins will be going back to Norfolk of the AHL.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31 shots for the Rangers, 5-2-1 in their last eight games.
"A bounce here and there and we get the win," Lundqvist said. "They're a good team, no question. They have skilled guys up front. They played pretty solid defensively, as well."
Desjardins won his NHL debut on Thursday night, beating Montreal 4-1. The 25-year-old rookie allowed a goal 58 seconds into the game on the first shot he faced against the Canadiens, and then stopped 27 shots in that one.
Tyrell also scored for the Lightning, who have won eight of 10. Tampa Bay has won all three games against the Rangers this season.
Stamkos didn't record a point, and his four-game goal streak ended in his 200th NHL game. He has 105 goals and 197 points in his career.
Tyrell put the Lightning up 1-0 when he scored a rebound goal off his own shot during a 2-on-1 break at 13:03 of the first. It stopped his 14-game goal drought.
Desjardins stopped an in-close shot by Marc Staal during a 2-on-1 rush in the second. He also made a glove save on Brandon Prust's drive from the low left circle with 12:25 left in the third.
Lundqvist, 13-7-3 against the Lightning, made a pair of saves on backhanders by Ryan Malone during the second period.
Sharks 1, Kings 0 | HIGHLIGHTS
Antti Niemi made 29 saves for his ninth NHL shutout and Devin Setoguchi scored on his 24th birthday to lead San Jose past Los Angeles at the Staples Center.
"To keep that team off the scoreboard was a pretty good accomplishment on our behalf," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Niemi was tremendous. He's been in some very pressure-type situations in his young career, and I thought he looked very comfortable in the net."
The prevailing attitude in the Sharks' dressing room was that they lucked out.
"We haven't played consistently well all year, at least not through any particularly long stretch," defenseman Douglas Murray said. "We still need to find our game. We're used to getting 35-40 shots, but we're not getting that right now and that's not good enough. We haven't had that much new personnel this year, so we've got to get going and playing better than we are."
The Sharks had only 10 shots before Setoguchi scored his seventh goal at 18:54 of the second period. He beat Jonathan Quick to the stick side with a screened wrist shot after pausing to allow teammate Joe Thornton and two Kings players to converge in front of the net.
"I was kind of waiting for Jumbo to push through to the middle, and he took both guys with him, which gave me time and wide ice to cut to the middle and walk in and take a quick shot on the net," Setoguchi said. "But it doesn't happen if he doesn't go through there, because their 'D' can step up and play me. Otherwise, I would have been stuck on the outside and probably would have just floated one toward the net."
Quick stopped 18 shots, including a breakaway by defenseman Kent Huskins at 1:04 of the second period, but the Kings were shut out for the second time this season and fell to 13-4-1 at home.
"We were not creating enough traffic at their net," coach Terry Murray said. "Niemi saw a lot of pucks that were coming from up top. He's a good goaltender, and he's going to be a better goaltender if you don't create a lot of havoc and get in his face on a consistent basis.
"Once they scored with a minute and a half left in the second period, it's an easy game for them -- to play five back, which they did. Then we had to battle and find a way, and we just couldn't do it."
The Kings, who came in with the league's best penalty-killing percentage at home, thwarted a 5-on-3 power play after Dustin Brown got a hooking penalty at 10:03 of the first period and defenseman Drew Doughty was sent off three seconds later for delay of game after he shot the puck over the glass.
Murray spent his only timeout with 55 seconds left on the two-man advantage so that assistant John Stevens -- who orchestrates the penalty-killing unit -- could make sure everyone was on the same page. It also gave defensemen Matt Greene and Rob Scuderi a rest.
"We wanted to stay with the same two defensemen," Murray said. "Greene and Scuderi are two veteran guys who are big bodies and block a lot of shots, and they did an outstanding job on the penalty-kill."
The Sharks got just two shots on net during that power play and five in the entire period, including a 75-foot drive by Jamal Mayers in the final second.
Huskins' interference penalty carried over into the middle period, and he was sent in on a breakaway by Marc-Edouard Vlasic as he left the box. But Quick stood his ground and helped extend Huskins' goal drought to 50 games, dating to Feb. 13.
Flames 2, Oilers 1 | HIGHLIGHTS
Mark Giordano's second-period goal stood up as the winner as Calgary extended its winning streak to a season-best four games with a victory against Edmonton at Rexall Place.
To read NHL.com's full recap, click here.
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.