BUFFALO, N.Y. — Mike Reilly scored the go-ahead goal 8:48 into the third period, and the Ottawa Senators snapped a seven-game road skid with a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
Tyler Ennis had a goal and assist and Jean-Gabriel Pageau also scored for Ottawa, which had gone 0-4-3 on the road since a 5-2 win at Edmonton on Dec. 4. Mark Borowiecki sealed the victory by blocking Marcus Johansson’s point shot and then banking the puck off the boards and scoring into an empty net with 2:06 remaining. Nikita Zaitsev added another empty netter with 6 seconds left.
Craig Anderson stopped 37 shots to snap an 0-4-1 skid during which he allowed 22 goals.
Sabres captain Jack Eichel scored his career-best 29th of the season and Sam Reinhart also scored for Buffalo, which was playing its first game following a 10-day layoff.
Sabres starter Linus Ullmark was unable to put weight on his right leg in being helped off the ice with 9:32 left in the third period. Ullmark, who stopped 17 of 20 shots, was hurt while untouched in his crease. With Ottawa’s Artem Anisimov circling the net, Ullmark’s left skate slipped out from under him, and he fell back with his right leg bent under him.
Carter Hutton took over and finished with eight saves.
Reilly’s goal came 43 seconds after Buffalo’s Michael Frolik was penalized for roughing. Ennis set up the goal by driving the left circle and then making a no-look drop pass to Reilly, who blasted a shot in through a crowd from left point.
The Senators entered with the NHL’s worst-ranked power-play unit and converted on each of their first three chances. The three power-play goals were the most by Ottawa since a 4-3 overtime win at Winnipeg on Feb. 16, 2019.
The Senators improved to 2-5-5 in their past 12 while playing on consecutive nights, following a 4-3 shootout loss at home to New Jersey.
The Senators squandered a pair of one-goal leads through two periods, which ended with the score tied at 2 despite Ottawa holding a 30-15 edge in shots.
The difference was a pair of defensive breakdowns by Senators veteran defenceman Ron Hainsey, which led to Buffalo’s first two goals.
The Sabres tied it a 1 with 6:18 left in the first period. After Ottawa’s Zaitsev forced Johansson’s turnover at the end boards, the puck dribbled to Hainsey, who inexplicably flipped it in front of his own net, where Reinhart easily tapped it in.
Then, some four minutes after Ennis snapped in Drake Batherson’s feed to put Ottawa up 2-1, Eichel tied it at the 8:48 mark of the second period.
Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons deflected Brandon Montour’s points shot toward the net. Anderson made the save, but couldn’t find the rebound lying in the crease. Eichel out-muscled Hainsey and jammed in the loose puck.
Sabres forward Jeff Skinner returned after missing 10 games with an upper body injury.
Skinner was off to a slow start after signing an eight-year, $72 million contract last spring. Before getting hurt, he had 11 goals and eight assists for 19 points in 39 games a season after scoring a career-best 40 goals.
Senators D Borowiecki has picked up the nickname “Nailgun” — a spin on being “hard as nails” — from teammate Brady Tkachuk. It came a night after Borowiecki briefly left the ice before quickly returning after being struck below the eye by New Jersey’s Blake Coleman’s stick. “When you see `Nailgun’ come back and kind of look unfazed, that kind of speaks to the leadership and how much he means to our team,” Tkachuk said. … Sabres GM Jason Botterill spoke earlier in the day and defended coach Ralph Krueger’s decisions to occassionally play D Zach Bogosian and C Evan Rodrigues after both requested trades. “Hey, if a player does go to the media, it’s not going to change how we’re going to dictate things,” Botterill said, while noting he and Krueger have made clear how they felt about the players’ comments. … Bogosian and Rodrigues were both healthy scratches. … The Sabres held a 24-second pre-game moment of silence in honour of Kobe Bryant.
Senators: Host Washington Capitals on Friday.
Sabres: Host Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
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John Wawrow, The Associated Press