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by Chris Ryndak / Buffalo Sabres

KANATA, ONTARIO – Three unanswered goals, including two in early in the third period helped the Ottawa Senators pull ahead of the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.

The Sabres have been having better starts as of late and this time, it translated into a two-goal lead after 20 minutes of play. However, the Senators rallied and came out with a 3-2 victory at Canadian Tire Centre.

Anders Lindback didn’t expect to make the start for Buffalo, but he was thrust between the pipes when Chad Johnson sustained a lower-body injury near the end of the morning skate. Sabres coach Ted Nolan said after the game that Johnson will be out for some time and his injury could end his season. There are only 17 games remaining.

Lindback made 34 saves against Ottawa.

After the game, Nolan wouldn’t commit to a starting goaltender for the team’s game on Saturday in Washington. The team called up Andrey Makarov to back up Lindback. Matt Hackett could also be an option at some point as well.

Lindback is ready to take the reins if necessary.

“I feel good. This is what I’ve been working for for a long time to get some playing time and prove myself,” he said. “Obviously it’s disappointing today, but I’m ready and I want to get back in there tomorrow and try to win that game.”

Philip Varone opened the scoring for Buffalo 7:22 in, using a burst of speed down the neutral zone to backhand a loose puck past Hammond. Andre Benoit got the play started, sending the puck up the left wing, where Matt Moulson tipped it up near the penalty box and up into the zone. Varone broke in and put in his third of the season.

Andrew Hammond ended up stopping 24 shots for Ottawa, improving to 7-0-1 in eight starts this season. He has yet to allow more than two goals in any game.

To get ahead, Varone said the Sabres, and his line in particular, was able to find success by simplifying their game.

“It was nothing fancy,” he said. “That goalie, it was only his seventh or eighth game, I know he’s been playing well but I bet every game he’s been a little nervous. It’s the NH. So we were just getting pucks to the net and we didn’t keep our foot on the gas.”

The Sabres extended their lead to two when Tyler Ennis wristed a shot through traffic down the left wing. Ennis leads Buffalo in goals (16) and points (34) on the year.

It could’ve been 3-0 after one if Ennis hadn’t hit the right post with a hard wrist shot with 1:40 remaining.

“I heard Matty calling on the backside but I decided to shoot it and I wish that would’ve went in,” Ennis said.

Ottawa got on the board 26 seconds into the second on a shot from the point by Karlsson that deflected in front off of Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian.

The Senators then opened the third with a quick goal as Mika Zibanejad tallied 1:34 into the final frame to tie the game. At the 3:08 mark, Mark Stone put the Senators ahead, putting home a rebound off a wraparound attempt by Mark Methot.

“They came out hard in the third, but we’ve got to expect that and I’ve got to come up with those saves that keep us in the game,” Lindback said. “I didn’t and we lost.”

Nolan thought his team did just about all they could to hold the lead. Unfortunately, they were unable to hold onto the lead.

“We just kind of watched. Those last two goals, those are things that are going to happen when you’ve got inexperienced guys in tight situations and you’ve got experienced guys on the other team,” Nolan said. “Hopefully, we just learn from it.”

The Sabres will next face the Capitals on Saturday at 7 p.m. from Verizon Center. The Tops Game Night pregame show is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. on MSG-B and Bell. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.

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