BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres are hot whether or not their statistics show it.
Forward Matt Moulson scored twice and forward Tyler Ennis had three assists to help the Sabres defeat the Calgary Flames 4-3 at First Niagara Center on Thursday.
Moulson’s second goal at 7:29 of the third period proved to be the game-winner. A pass from Ennis deflected off Moulson’s skate and past Flames goalie Karri Ramo (15 saves) for his sixth goal of the season. The goal was reviewed and upheld after it was determined Moulson didn't intentionally kick the puck in the net.
"I didn’t really think I kicked it. I just put it there," Moulson said. "Sometimes [you’ve] got to win the ugly games. We didn’t play our best, I don’t think, but we found a way to win."
The Sabres improved to 8-3-0 in their past 11 games.
"It wasn't one of our better games but we showed the belief the factor is starting to creep in," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "It's pretty special because we weren't in the game but we still believed that we could come back. To tie it up and go ahead on that big goal from [Zemgus] Girgensons was pretty special."
Girgensons tied the game at 3-3 at 7:59 of the third period. He took a cross-crease pass from Ennis and his wrist shot got past Ramo for his ninth goal.
"This team has taken a 180 from where we were at the start of the year," Moulson said. "I think now we believe in each other, we’re competing a lot harder. We know what we have to do to have success and get wins. (We’re) doing a lot better job of getting those little things done."
The Flames had numerous chances throughout the game. Calgary outshot Buffalo 45-19 and had a 76-36 advantage in shots attempted.
"It's just to show sometimes it's not only how much you score, it's how much you give," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "Tonight we gave one more than them and we lost the game."
Moulson’s first goal of the game opened the scoring at 5:34 of the second period when he took a pass in front of the net from Ennis.
"I think we worked hard," Ennis said. "Their defense got up in the play and I think we capitalized on a couple of turnovers and got it in and worked it. It was a good game."
Flames defenseman TJ Brodie was checked by Ennis, who stole the puck and passed to Moulson alone in front of the net for the goal.
"It's definitely not the kind of game I want to play, but there's nights like that," Brodie said. "It's just a matter of getting back to the way I was playing."
Brodie was on the ice for three Sabres goals including the final two.
"He's been so good to us," Hartley said. "In this business it's so easy to get emotional and start yelling and throwing stuff. Those guys know. Tonight, I'll be honest with you, I didn't even address them. I didn't say anything after the game.
"We didn't even go in the room because the effort is there. We screwed up on a few goals. TJ knows that he should've moved the puck on that first goal. It's done."
The Sabres (11-16-2) also got a goal from forward Marcus Foligno. Goalie Jhonas Enroth made 42 saves.
"I had a lot of shots against me and felt pretty good all game," Enroth said. "It’s three goals but it’s not that bad, I thought. Especially when we win the game, it feels a little bit different when you lose the game and give up three goals."
The Flames (17-11-2) took a 3-2 lead 3:14 into the third period when forward Sean Monahan scored his 11th goal. Monahan took a pass from forward Joe Colborne after he skated around the net.
Monahan beat Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges to the front of the net and scored on Enroth, who couldn’t get across the crease.
"As much as we were good offensively, we had some breakdowns," Hartley said. "Lately we’re not as sharp as we can be defensively and other teams make us pay for this. [It’s] too bad because we’ve been so good with a one-goal lead, we finally got the lead early in the third and we couldn't keep it."
Colborne played in his first game since Oct. 28 when he sustained an upper-body injury against the Montreal Canadiens.
"It was definitely a weird start to the game for me," Colborne said. "It took me a while, I felt, like to get feeling the puck but I felt like the third period was my best period and my legs felt awesome so that wasn't a problem at all. It's just putting this one behind us and making sure we start tomorrow against a very good hockey team."
Forward David Jones and defenseman Mark Giordano also scored for Calgary.
It’s the first time the Flames have lost three consecutive games this season.
"We didn't lose two in a row there for a long time, but now it's three," Giordano said. "So we've got to find a way to get points next game, get the win, and move on from there."
The Sabres had eight points after their first 18 games but have 16 points in 11 game since.
"Our team confidence is in a good place," Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers said. "I still think it can go (higher). I think we’re doing the right things, we’re trying to do the right things. ... I think that confidence will grow even more. Right now for the most part we’re doing good things. There is still room for improvement but we’re doing the right things."