KANATA, Ont. -- Just as they've been doing in the race for a playoff berth, the Buffalo Sabres spent Saturday night playing catch-up.
Happily for the Sabres' playoff hopes, they caught -- and passed -- the Ottawa Senators.
Tyler Ennis scored in regulation and got the winner in the shootout as the Sabres gave their playoff chances a boost with a 4-3 victory at Scotiabank Place.
"I think it shows a lot of character from our team that we were able to battle back," Ennis said. "Now we just gotta move forward."
After Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson scored in the first half of the third round to tie the shootout, Ennis came in on Ben Bishop, deked once and snapped a forehand past him to give the Sabres a victory after they overcame three one-goal deficits to get the game past 60 minutes.
The win gave the Sabres 72 points, the same as ninth-place Winnipeg -- both teams trail eighth-place Washington by two points, though the Caps have a game in hand on both teams.
The single point gave the seventh-place Senators 81, two behind sixth-place New Jersey.
"We’ll take what we can get tonight," coach Paul MacLean said. "We worked real hard; we got a point. We’ll move on."
Nathan Gerbe and Marcus Foligno also had goals for Buffalo, while Erik Karlsson scored twice and Erik Condra once for the Senators, who led three times but couldn't put away the visitors.
"We played well in the third," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "We had a little trouble in the second, but we came back to our game and capitalized on our opportunities. I like what the lines did. I thought Ville (Leino) had a heck of a game up there with (Cody) Hodgson and (Jason) Pominville."
Bishop, making his third consecutive start for Ottawa in the absence of injured starter Craig Anderson, stopped a season-high 38 saves. Ryan Miller made 33 saves for Buffalo.
The Senators grabbed a 3-2 lead at 7:14 of the third period when Karlsson, the NHL's scoring leader among defensemen, fired home his 18th of the season. But Foligno, whose older brother Nick plays for Ottawa, got his first NHL goal with 5:54 left in regulation when his shot from the left corner banked off Alfredsson's ankle and went over Bishop's shoulder.
Ruff had said on Saturday morning that he hoped Marcus would be "the best Foligno on the ice."
"I don’t know if my brother wants to hear this, but I think (I was)," Marcus Foligno said with a laugh. "Nick played well tonight but I was just fortunate to get that bounce."
Foligno made the split-second decision not to do the jump made famous by his father, Mike.
"It was one of those nightmares – I thought about my dad’s jump," he said. "I thought (Drew) Stafford hit it, so I’ll save the jump for Sabres fans because they’ll want to see it live."
Ottawa opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal 8:27 into the first period. Milan Michalek was serving an interference penalty when Condra raced down the middle of the ice on a breakaway and wristed a shot through Miller’s five-hole. It was Condra’s first goal in 30 games -- four out of his eight goals this season have come against the Sabres.
Condra nearly got his second of the night halfway through the second, when Jordan Leopold gave the puck away just after a faceoff to the right of Miller. Condra pounced on the puck and tried to stuff it under Miller’s blocker but was denied.
The Sabres then tied the game at 9:28, when Christian Ehrhoff passed the puck to Derek Roy from the half-boards, then skated to the front of the net. Roy then passed to Gerbe, whose shot from the high slot beat a screened Bishop. It was Gerbe’s first goal in 16 games.
Ottawa went back in front at 11:42 when Chris Neil’s shot was cleared to the corner by Roy and picked up by Karlsson, whose sharp-angled shot from the right corner tipped off Miller’s left shoulder and went into the net.
Buffalo maintained pressure in the Senators’ zone late in the second and tied it with 19 seconds left in the period. Leino passed to Leopold, who took a one-timer from the point. The shot hit Ottawa defenseman Filip Kuba in front of the net; Ennis dove for it and backhanded the puck past a sprawling Bishop.
Karlsson put Ottawa ahead for the third time when he picked off a clearing attempt by Mike Weber at the Sabres' blue line and wired a shot under the arm of Miller, who was clearly frustrated after the goal.
Buffalo's Matt Ellis left early in the third period with a lower-body injury and did not return. Patrick Kaleta also left midway through the second.
"I think the news on Matty is going to be bad," Ruff said. "I think he’s going to be (out) some time. Kaleta’s nursing his neck and it got too stiff to play." Ruff also added that forward Thomas Vanek, injured on Thursday, was "too tender" and couldn’t exercise. He is doubtful for Monday’s game against Montreal.