BUFFALO – The Ottawa Senators have played in a handful of close games lately and after two shootout losses, they were finally able to come away with two points Saturday.
Kyle Turris scored twice, including the winner in overtime on the power play, as the Senators defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 at a sold-out First Niagara Center.
Ottawa's last 11 games have been decided by one goal and the Senators have now gone 5-2-4 in that span. Six of those games have been decided either in overtime or the shootout.
"We don't like playing 60 minutes," goaltender Ben Bishop joked. "We like to play a lot longer than that so it's a big win, a big road win."
After serving as the backup for the last three games, Bishop stopped 33 shots.
Defenseman Mike Weber and forward Drew Stafford scored to put Buffalo ahead 2-0 after the first period.
The Senators tied it in the second period thanks to forward Patrick Wiercioch's fourth goal in six games and a goal from defenseman Chris Phillips. Turris scored Ottawa's third goal of the period to give his team the lead. Wiercioch added an assist on the first Turris goal as well.
With two assists in the game, Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar extended his point streak to six games. He has eight assists in that span. Turris also assisted on Wiercioch's goal, giving him four points in his last three games.
Stafford scored again with 7:54 left in the third period to tie the game 3-3.
Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff put the Senators on the game-deciding power play when he was called for interfering with Senators forward Mika Zibanejad with 2:44 left in overtime.
The Senators were patient with the puck with the man advantage in the extra period and after having several shots blocked, Turris accepted a pass from captain Daniel Alfredsson and ripped a one-timer from in close over Ryan Miller's blocker.
"It was a great pass by [Alfredsson]. We were working the 4-on-3 pretty well there," Turris said. "[Alfredsson] and [Gonchar] had a couple of good shots. I think [Guillaume Latendresse] hit the post. We were buzzing around their net and I was just lucky to put one in."
Perhaps Bishop's best save of the game came shorthanded with less than three minutes to play. Sabres center Cody Hodgson passed the puck into the slot and Bishop kicked out a one-timer from Sabres leading scorer Thomas Vanek with his right pad.
Miller, having recovered from a sinus infection that prevented him from starting on Tuesday against the New York Rangers, made 30 saves for Buffalo.
Miller was stellar very early in the second, stopping four Ottawa shots in a five-second span by Jakob Silfverberg and Peter Regin during 4-on-4 play, but the Senators eventually beat him three times in the period. Ottawa outshot Buffalo 15-9 in the second.
"We're very pleased with how we responded and that's what we had to do: respond," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "Down 2-0 on the road, the next goal is huge and I thought we came out and established our game finally and put some pressure on the goaltender to defend his net and made some good plays."
The Sabres have now allowed 37 second-period goals this season. Only the Pittsburgh Penguins have surrendered more (38). Ottawa improved to 10-1-1 when leading after two.
"We were fortunate to still have 40 minutes left. We said, ‘We have 40 minutes left to go out and kind of redeem ourselves.' So we did," Bishop said. "We had a great second period, a real strong third period, too."
The Senators first got on the board 4:03 into the second when a slap shot by Wiercioch from the top of the left faceoff circle beat Miller. Alfredsson set up a screen in front and Miller may not have seen the shot.
Phillips then tied the game 2-2 at the 10:14 mark of the second. Senators forward Jim O'Brien cleanly won a faceoff against Jochen Hecht to Miller's left and Phillips fired a shot on goal right away. The puck deflected off Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold and floated up past Miller to even the score. The goal was Phillips' fourth this season.
Turris scored on a wraparound to make it 3-2 with 1:03 remaining in the second. Turris accepted a pass from Latendresse on the right wing and skated around Ehrhoff to the other side of the net. When Turris threw the puck in front, it went off Miller's skate as he pushed off from his left to his right and into the back of the net.
"I thought Kyle was probably our best forward tonight," MacLean said. "He was up and down the rink, I thought he skated the rink and was active on the puck. Obviously scoring two goals, he was shooting the puck and that's real good to see."
Stafford tied the game when he gathered in an errant shot from Ehrhoff along the left wing boards and put a wrist shot on goal. The puck deflected off Senators defenseman Zack Smith and beat Bishop on his glove side from 48 feet out.
Center Tyler Ennis and forward Ville Leino returned to Buffalo's lineup and, with linemate Steve Ott, created opportunities to get the Sabres going early.
Leino made his season debut for the Sabres after missing the first 27 games of the season due to a hip injury sustained during training camp.
Ennis also returned to Buffalo's lineup, having recovered from an upper-body injury he incurred on March 10 against the Philadelphia Flyers. He missed Buffalo's last game.
While on the ice with the Leino-Ennis-Ott line, Weber put Buffalo ahead 1-0 with his first goal of the season.
Leino, buzzing around the net, deflected a shot from Ott in behind the net, recovered it and fed it back out to the point. Weber wristed it on net and, with Leino back in front of Bishop, scored the sixth goal of his career and his first since Jan. 21, 2012.
Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said he liked the balance of his four lines.
"I don't think you could say if there was a second or a fourth or a first tonight. I was comfortable in the sense that we felt good about all the lines in what they can do," Rolston said.
Stafford scored his first of the game and second of the season with 4:44 to play in the first to increase Buffalo's lead to two. Setting up in the Ottawa zone, Sabres center Jochen Hecht's pass to the point found its way to Weber at the right point. Weber thought about shooting but moved it across the blue line to partner Jordan Leopold, who then whipped the puck across to Nathan Gerbe on the right half-wall.
Gerbe's one-timer was blocked in front of the net by defenseman Marc Methot and went to the top of the crease, where Stafford was parked. Stafford muscled past Gonchar to poke the puck in between Bishop's legs.
Before capitalizing with Weber's tally, Leino, Ennis and Ott's line nearly set up a goal 6:22 into the first period. Skating down the right wing boards, Leino threw a puck on goal that Ennis deflected off the left post. Bishop sprawled out on the ice and covered the puck to force a faceoff.
"I thought the first was probably one of our best periods of the year and the second was probably one of our worst at the end of the day," Rolston said. "We must have just comfortable and we didn't get our feet moving in the second."
The Sabres are scrambling to collect points and make a playoff push and Sabres captain Jason Pominville knows that, despite tying the game in the third, his team needs to collect more than one point against a team they're looking up at in the standings.
"Any time you can get points in the situation that we're in is important, but at the same time if we want to make ground we are going to have to get two," Pominville said. "We can't just get one point; we have to be able to get two points. We had a two-goal lead and it just wasn't good enough."
Forward Matt Kassian, acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, played his first game for the Senators. He made his presence known when he created traffic in front of Miller on the Phillips goal.
Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta served the fifth and final game of his suspension for checking New York Rangers forward Brad Richards into the boards from behind on March 3.
Defenseman Andrej Sekera left the game late in the third period with what Rolston called an upper body injury. He will be re-evaluated on Sunday and the team may call up another defenseman for the team's game against the Washington Capitals.