"The last two games have been very important," said head coach Lindy Ruff, whose team out hit the Senators 19-14. "We battled and clawed for every inch of ice.
"We're gaining a little bite, a little attitude and a little bit of physical tone that I thought was missing."
Buffalo didn't look like a team on the tail end of back-to-back games. Keeping each shift relatively short in the opening period, the Sabres saved their legs for the third period and were able to hold their ground when it mattered most.
"Coming in late last night and with them waiting for us, to get two points and play as hard as we did for 60 minutes is a big win," said Chris Drury.
Added Ruff: "We skated when we were tired and competed sometimes when we didn't have a lot left in the tank."
Most importantly, the penalty kill units held the Ottawa power-play to just one goal in four opportunities. It was a moral victory in itself after the Senators had converted 39 percent (9-23) of their chances in the last four meetings, all Sabres loses.
Buffalo's power play countered with a goal in four chances.
"We were really pumped for this game tonight," said Thomas Vanek
, who scored the game winner with the man advantage and four minutes remaining in regulation. Vanek also scored Buffalo's first goal to finish the night with a pair. "Ottawa has owned us this season so we were committed to playing hard for 60 minutes and I think we showed that."
Aggressively forechecking, Vanek intercepted a Anton Volchenkov's swing pass in Ottawa's zone and slipped the puck around a downed Ray Emery's left pad to give Buffalo the 1-0 lead at 11:21.
A fumble by netminder Martin Biron allowed Ottawa to tie the game.
Biron was handcuffed by Joe Corvo's wristshot from the right half-wall leaving Dean McAmmond an easy chip shot into a wide-open net for his sixth of the season at 12:02 of the second. The Sabres goalie would finish the game credited with 28 saves.
Maxim Afinogenov fired a one-timer off Derek Roy
's centering feed to regain the Buffalo lead at 17:37 of the second. Afinogenov's 22nd of the season rang off the crossbar before crossing the goal line to break his eight-game goal drought. With the second assist, Nathan Paetsch registered his seventh assist in as many games, giving him 14 helpers on the year.
With 27 seconds remaining in Teppo Numminen's delay of game penalty, Peter Schaefer flipped a bouncing puck over Biron through a scrum to tie the game 2-2 at 3:35 of the final frame. Four of Schaefer's nine goals this season have come against the Sabres.
Vanek's second goal of the night gave Buffalo the lead at 16:00 of the third. Ales Kotalik's slapshot deflected off Chris Kelly's stick before being redirected into the net by Vanek to record his 28th of the season and 12th power-play goal.
SCORING SHEETS Game Summary
| Super Stats
| Shift Chart