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Two quick goals give Sabres win against Senators

by Chris Ryndak

BUFFALO -- In a whirlwind of 12 seconds, the Buffalo Sabres managed to pull away and take two points from the Ottawa Senators on Friday.

Rookie Brian Flynn scored with 5:23 remaining in regulation, and Jochen Hecht added a goal a dozen seconds later as Buffalo defeated Ottawa 4-2 at First Niagara Center.

The Sabres have won back-to-back games after gaining two points in their previous four. Buffalo, considered sellers when they traded defensemen Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr and captain Jason Pominville before the NHL deadline Wednesday, have not given up hope of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs despite being four points out of eighth place with 10 games to go.

The players certainly aren't thinking about rebuilding.

"There's no indication of that even being said in this room," said forward Steve Ott, who scored Buffalo's second goal. "We really want to fight. There's a lot to play for in this dressing room and we've got 10 games left to prove that."

Luke Adam also scored for Buffalo. Defensemen Marc Methot and Eric Gryba had the goals for Ottawa. Mika Zibanejad of the Senators and Adam Pardy of the Sabres each recorded two assists.

With Flynn, Adam and defenseman Mark Pysyk, the Sabres' youth movement is on. Flynn, with four goals this season, is trying to make the most of this chance.

"The morale's up a little bit. It's obviously tough when you lose your captain and some other veteran guys who were a big part of the team, but I think we just stressed that it gives other guys opportunities and maybe gives a guy like me a little more opportunity to hopefully contribute a little more offensively," Flynn said.

The Senators have dropped three straight and continue on to the third of a seven-game road trip Sunday against the Florida Panthers.

"I personally believe that it's even more important now to stay upbeat, stay confident in what we're doing. I don't think we're that far off at all because it's so close as it is in the League," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "We're not the only team that's gone through this and we're not going to be the last one either. We'll find a way to weather through this."

Buffalo gained the lead when a shot from the point by Buffalo defenseman Mike Weber went wide of the net but ricocheted off the end boards onto the stick of Hecht, who threw the puck across the crease. Flynn got to it and backhanded it past Ottawa goaltender Robin Lehner.

Hecht said he didn't see Flynn there, but knew center Kevin Porter was around the net for a possible tip-in.

On the next shift, Hecht scored on a backhand from 32 feet out as he spun around to avoid the reach of Senators forward Kyle Turris.

"[Turris] had a decent stick on my stick, so I decided to turn up and throw it to the net. I knew [Porter] and [Flynn] were going to the net there again and found a way," Hecht said.

Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller made 35 saves. With his first of the second period, Miller set the record for saves as a member of the Sabres with 13,309. Dominik Hasek previously held that distinction.

Lehner, coming off a career-high 47-save performance against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, stopped 26 shots.

An early third-period goal by Gryba gave the Senators a 2-1 lead. He scored at 1:41 on a wrist shot from the point through traffic.

Buffalo responded quickly when Ott, standing in front of the net, deflected in a shot from Pysyk along the wall near the top of the left faceoff circle. Ott's seventh of the season came 1:34 after Gryba scored.

In the wake of Buffalo trading Pominville to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, Ott was promoted to alternate captain.

"Obviously there are a lot of great leaders in this dressing room and we lost a great one in Jason Pominville. I thought he showed up every single night and he was a tremendous hockey player," Ott said. "To throw the ‘A' on the jersey and have that representation means a lot to myself, but like I said, a lot of guys in here lead in their own way and hopefully a few guys jump on my coattails and we can ride off and continue to collect points."

Adam put Buffalo ahead 1-0 6:21 into the game. On the forecheck, Flynn passed the puck back to Weber at the right point. He moved it over to his partner Pardy, who then swung it back cross-ice to Adam in the faceoff circle, where a one-timer beat Lehner over the right shoulder.

It's been a relatively long journey back to the NHL for 22-year-old Adam. He started the 2011-12 season centering the Sabres' top line but was sent down to Rochester of the American Hockey League in February 2012 after failing to register a point in his 25 of his last 26 games. Numerous Rochester players had been brought up before Adam got the call again Monday.

Adam played in his first game of the season Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He skated with Porter and Flynn, who started the season in Rochester as well. Adam's goal Friday was his first since Dec. 17, 2011 and his first at home since he scored a pair on Nov. 26, 2011 against the Washington Capitals. He has 14 goals and 11 assists in 73 NHL games.

"It was a great shot too," Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said of Adam's goal. "[Adam] did a great job of popping off on that weak side and [Pardy] made a great play to him, so it was good to see. It was real good to see him happy for Luke."

Ottawa tied the game 1-1 with 7:31 to play in the first period. As forward Jakob Silfverberg skated over the Buffalo line with new teammate Cory Conacher and Zibanejad, he dropped the puck to Methot. He wristed a shot through some traffic to beat Miller for his second goal of the season.

Conacher, in his first game with Ottawa after being traded from the Tampa Bay Lightning for goaltender Ben Bishop on Wednesday, was on the ice and in front of the net for both Senators goals.

"It's tough to lose that way. I think we deserved a little better fate, but those games happen," Conacher said. "Just like that, you have to claw your way back, and we tried, but it's just too little, too late, and they had a goalie in net tonight, so it was tough to get them by."

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