BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Sabres are trying to climb out of the Eastern Conference basement. While they are rising, the Ottawa Senators are headed in the opposite direction.
Evander Kane, Kyle Okposo and Benoit Pouliot scored in the second period, leading the Sabres to a 3-2 victory over the Senators on Tuesday night.
Rasmus Ristolainen had two assists as Buffalo extended its season-best point streak to four games at 2-0-2. Robin Lehner made 24 saves to improve to 7-0-2 against his former team.
”Our whole game the last week has been better, a step in the right direction,” Ristolainen said. ”We’ve got to build on that.”
The Sabres (8-17-6) remain in last place in the East, but they moved within three points of the Senators (9-13-7).
Buffalo was coming off consecutive overtime losses in Chicago and St. Louis.
”We’ve got a little bit of momentum and we built off that tonight,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said. ”We’re trying to climb the ladder.”
Cody Ceci and Derick Brassard scored for the Senators, who wrapped up a six-game road trip with their fifth straight loss. Mike Condon had 22 saves.
”It’s been a tough road trip for us,” Brassard said. ”I think it’s time for us to go home and regroup and play in front of our fans.”
Ottawa dropped to 1-10-2 in its last 13 games.
”In the end, we needed one more goal and we needed one more save,” coach Guy Boucher said. ”It’s been like that for a long, long time now.”
The Sabres scored all three of their goals in an 8:20 span.
Kane made it 3-0 with his 14th of the season on a power play with 7:27 left in the second. Ristolainen fed Kane for a one-timer from the slot.
Lehner was bidding for a shutout before Ceci scored off a rebound of his own shot 6:43 into the third. Brassard made it 3-2 in the final minute after the Senators pulled Condon for an extra skater, but the Sabres held on.
”There was that time there in the second period where we kind of let things get away from us and I think we ended up paying for it in the end,” Condon said. ”Showed some grit coming back in the third but it’s been the same story over and over, just one goal short. It’s frustrating.”
Pouliot put Buffalo in front to stay when he skated past Dion Phaneuf and Brassard and slipped a backhand around Ceci’s stick and between Condon’s pads for his eighth goal of the season 4:13 into the second.
The Sabres scored again just 72 seconds later. Ryan O’Reilly set up Okposo with a backhand pass from behind the net. Okposo has five goals on the year.
Buffalo got a boost when Ottawa was unable to score on a second-period power play lasting 3:01, including 59 seconds with a 5-on-3 advantage.
”That was huge,” Pouliot said. ”It’s not always the power play that’s going to get you the momentum. I think when you get a good kill, a big kill like that, especially 5-on-3, the boys get up, the boys rally and the boys feel good. That was huge for us.”
NOTES: Kane has a point in five straight games, his longest streak with the Sabres. … Concussion spotters pulled Senators F Bobby Ryan late in the third period after taking a hit from Buffalo’s Jordan Nolan. Boucher said Ryan was not injured. … Senators D Frederik Claesson returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch the past three games. … Sabres D Nathan Beaulieu (illness) and C Jacob Josefson (ankle) skated on Tuesday and are nearing returns. … Buffalo has earned a point in nine straight meetings (7-0-2) with Ottawa.
Senators: Host the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
Sabres: Visit Philadelphia on Thursday.