BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres may be building for the future, but they're not giving up on this season yet.
The Sabres scored twice in a span of 12 seconds in the third period to come away with a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Friday night at the First Niagara Center.
The win was Buffalo's second in a row after defeating the Eastern Conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Tuesday night. And it came two days after general manager Darcy Regier alluded to a rebuilding process in Buffalo. Buffalo traded former captain Jason Pominville to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday for two prospects and two draft picks.
"There's so many aspects to play this game and there's still a lot of life in here to maybe even catch a playoff spot," Buffalo forward Steve Ott said. "Obviously, we're going to need some help from some of the top-end teams to knock off the guys we're racing with, but you know what? We're playing a lot of those guys we're racing with. We have to continue to be, I guess, that old 'Bad News Bears' hockey club."
Brian Flynn put the Sabres up 3-2 with 5:23 remaining, and Jochen Hecht gave the Sabres some insurance with 5:11 remaining on his third goal of the season.
Hecht was the spark behind both of Buffalo's late goals. Flynn's goal came after Hecht put the puck in the crease and it deflected to Flynn. Flynn then fired a backhand shot into the open net.
Hecht single-handedly scored Buffalo's fourth goal on a tremendous rush up ice before spinning and putting a backhand attempt past goalie Robin Lehner.
Ott and Luke Adam also scored for the Sabres, who improved to 15-17-6 and are now four points out of the final playoff spot in the East. Ryan Miller had 35 saves.
The suddenly slumping Senators lost their third game in a row and fell to 19-12-6. Marc Methot and Eric Gryba scored for Ottawa, and Lehner had 26 saves.
Ottawa is in the midst of a season-high seven-game road trip and is facing what coach Paul MacLean called a "must-win" game Sunday at Florida.
"I think it certainly is (a cause for concern)," MacLean said. "But we can't do anything about the last three, all we can do is something about the next one we play and it's a must-win here to make sure that we stop the bleeding, and we have to make sure we come prepared, we have to do more. Right now we're not doing enough to win a game and everyone has to play a little harder."
"It comes down to small bounces sometimes, but I feel like we have more in us than we showed today," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said.
If the Senators are going to bounce back, they'll need to do better with their puck possession. Two of Buffalo's goals came shortly after faceoff losses by Ottawa.
"The first thing for us is we need to have the puck more," MacLean said. "We're no good in the faceoff circle. We get scored on on two faceoff plays tonight, our power play (0-for-4) didn't generate any offense for us when we needed it to generate offense for us. Lost faceoffs led to ragged coverage in the defensive zone ... the faceoff circle's going to be a priority."
Adam got the Sabres on the board first at 6:21 on a blast from inside the right circle. Defenseman Adam Pardy found Adam wide open, and the forward ripped a slap shot past Lehner. It was Adam's first goal for the Sabres since Dec. 17, 2011.
Methot tied the game at 1-1 at 12:29 on a wrist shot through traffic from the right point. It was Methot's second goal of the season.
The teams traded goals early in the third period. Ottawa grabbed a 2-1 lead on Gryba's wrist shot 1:41 into the third. But the Sabres answered with Ott's seventh goal of the season at 3:15, tipping in Nathan Gerbe's shot to even the score at 2-2.
Buffalo then took charge with just over five minutes remaining, leaving some room for optimism in what has been a difficult campaign for the Sabres.
"We're trying to figure out what the temperature is and what's going on (as a franchise) but that doesn't stop the fact that we have 11 games left, now 10, there's points on the table and (we're) trying to be professional," Miller said. "It's just kind of what I was trying to do -- put everything aside, everything else can wait, just try and be right here right now and play some hockey and see how it goes."
NOTES: Sabres leading scorer Thomas Vanek missed his fifth game in a row with an upper-body injury. On Thursday, Vanek expressed some uncertainty over his future in Buffalo with the Sabres beginning the rebuilding process. Vanek has 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in 29 games. ... Ville Leino (upper body) was also scratched for Buffalo. ... Jim O'Brien, Andre Benoit and Mike Hoffman were scratched for Ottawa. ... Ottawa's next game is at Florida on Sunday. ... This was the fourth and final meeting between the Sabres and Senators this season. ... This was the 116th game all-time between Buffalo and Ottawa; heading into Friday's game, Buffalo led the series with a 56-42-17 record
By Mark Ludwiczak, The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: April 5, 2013 11:17:03 PM
Rebuilding Sabres win second in a row
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