BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Austin Watson scored the tiebreaker in the third period and Zach Sanford and Brady Tkachuk added goals as the Ottawa Senators beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 on Thursday night
Nick Holden had two assists and Anton Forsberg made 23 saves as the Senators improved to 5-2-1 in their last seven road games and 5-5-0 in their last 10 overall.
“It was one of those where we just got better as the game went on,” Watson said. “It’s not so much about the other team. It’s about being detailed and being committed to our game plan. And we definitely were.”
Kyle Okposo scored for the Sabres. Craig Anderson stopped 25 of 27 shots against his former team. Buffalo had won two in a row and had earned a point in three straight.
Coach Don Granato said the hungrier Senators outworked the Sabres, especially in the third period.
“It felt like, OK we won a couple games, and we can just flip a switch on,” Granato said. “And you can’t do that in competition at this level.”
Watson deflected Holden’s slap shot past Anderson for the go-ahead goal with 9:09 remaining in the third period, breaking an 18-game scoreless streak.
“It’s nice when you get rewarded with a goal, especially late in a tight hockey game,” Watson said. “It can’t be all the big guys all the time. So that’s the perfect time for your bottom six, so to speak, to chip in with a goal.”
Sanford tied it for the Senators with 3:56 remaining in the second period. Former Sabre Tyler Ennis found Sanford alone in front of the net, where he moved the puck to his backhand and tucked it around Anderson’s glove for his eighth goal.
Tkachuk added an empty-net goal in the closing seconds, his 16th of the season.
The Sabres didn’t put a shot on goal for the first 15:07 of the third period and had just two before getting another couple on net after pulling Anderson for an extra attacker in the final minute.
“It’s just one of those things where they were doing enough things right there, hemming us in our own zone when we were tired,” Anderson said. “Then they just started throwing pucks to the net, and they got a bounce.”
Okposo gave the Sabres the lead on a power play with 6:23 left in the first period. Taking a long pass from Rasmus Asplund to set up a breakaway, Okposo beat Forsberg with a move from the right slot. Okposo’s 11th goal was his third in four games.
The Senators held the Sabres scoreless on six power plays after allowing Okposo’s goal in the first period.
“Other than one mistake,” coach D.J. Smith said, “our penalty kill wins us the game tonight.”
Watson credited Forsberg’s “awesome” performance.
“Penalty killing starts with your goaltender,” Watson said. “Inevitably, there’s an extra guy out there, and you are going to give up something at times. But when your goaltender is making all the saves. It lends a lot of confidence.”
Anderson played against Ottawa for the first time since leaving the Senators in 2020, following 10 seasons with the team. He is the franchise leader in wins (202) and games played (422) by a goalie.
“It’s just fun when you’re playing people you know and it makes the rivalry just a little bit more energetic,” Anderson said. “You realize that this is a game. It’s supposed to be fun. And that’s part of it.”
Senators: G Matt Murray (undisclosed) did not make the trip to Buffalo. He was injured in the third period of Tuesday’s 5-2 loss against St. Louis when the Blues’ Oskar Sundqvist fell on top of him. … D Thomas Chabot (upper body) missed his second consecutive game and is expected to sit out two more before returning Tuesday against Minnesota.
Sabres: F Drake Caggiula will have season-ending fusion surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck, general manager Kevyn Adams said Thursday. Caggiula, who hasn’t played since Nov. 22, is expected to recover in six to eight months. … F Casey Mittelstadt (upper body) sat out his 41st game and fifth in a row following a hard practice Wednesday, but he is “close” to returning, Adams said. … F Vinnie Hinostroza (lower body) is expected to return to practice soon after tweaking his injury last week. … D Will Butcher (lower body) has resumed skating and is considered day to day.
Senators: Won for the second time in 10 games (2-5-3) when tied after two periods. … Watson returned from a two-game suspension for a hit on Boston defenseman Jack Ahcan in a 2-0 loss on Saturday.
Sabres: F Dylan Cozens was fined $2,235 by the NHL on Wednesday for cross-checking the Islanders’ Brock Nelson in Tuesday’s 6-3 win. … Robert Hagg returned to the lineup in place of Mattias Samuelsson as Buffalo continues to rotate its seven healthy defensemen. … F John Hayden received a game misconduct for instigating a fight with Watson in the opening minutes after Watson checked D Jacob Bryson into the end boards.
Senators: Host Boston on Saturday in the opener of a four-game homestand.
Sabres: Host Colorado on Saturday before going on five-game trip.
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