The Buffalo Sabres have been keeping one eye on the ice and the other on trade rumors this week. Somehow, despite the juggling act, they’ve found a way to win.
The Sabres earned their second straight victory Friday night, 4-2 over Ottawa. The victories came after the organization sent captain Jason Pominville and defensemen Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr packing, presumably a sign this season was over.
The players appear to have other ideas.
“The trading deadline is always a time when everybody’s anxious, waits and sees what’s going to happen, especially this year with a lot of rumors, a lot of talk about it,” forward Jochen Hecht said. “Once we come to the rink here, we’ve got to play. We did a hell of a job of concentrating and just focusing on our game.”
Hecht was at the center of the latest win.
Between them, Hecht and Brian Flynn had combined for 18 scoreless games. In a matter of 12 seconds, they got rid of the goose eggs and the Senators.
Flynn snapped a 2-2 tie with 5:23 remaining, and Hecht found the net with 5:11 to play to propel the Sabres past their division rival. Flynn put Buffalo ahead after burying a cross-crease pass from Hecht. The goal ended a seven-game scoring drought.
“That was a big shift for us,” Flynn said. “It’s tough when you lose your captain and some other veteran guys who were a big part of the team, but I think we just stressed it gives other guys opportunity, maybe gives a guy like me more opportunity to hopefully contribute more offensively.”
The cheers for Flynn’s goal from the First Niagara Center crowd were still reverberating when Hecht snapped his 11-game skid.
The center streaked down the left side, stopped in the faceoff circle and dumped a no-look backhand past goaltender Robin Lehner to give the Sabres breathing room.
“I just closed my eyes and threw it,” said Hecht, who has three goals in 37 games. “You want to contribute any way you can. So far, it’s been mostly playing on the fourth line and shutting guys down. I was able to set up one up and put one in.
“It was good to come out and get those two quick goals and finish it off.”
Another overdue player got the announced crowd of 18,811 out of its seats early. Luke Adam hadn’t scored in the NHL since Dec. 17, 2011. After his rocket found the top corner with 6:21 off the clock, he savored the long wait.
The forward stood on the right faceoff dot with his arms held high, his teammates skating over to congratulate him on the blast that gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead. Adam, who scored 10 times last season before being sent to Rochester, connected on a cross-ice pass from Adam Pardy.
“It was a great shot,” Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said. “It was real good to see. I’m happy for Luke.”
The lead lasted six minutes as Ottawa defenseman Marc Methot connected on a pinpoint shot of his own.
Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller finished the period with 11 saves, and the first stop in a scoreless second put him past Dominik Hasek on the Sabres’ career list with 13,309. Miller passed Hasek in franchise appearances Tuesday.
The Senators took their only lead with 1:41 gone in the third period on a goal by defenseman Eric Gryba.
The lead was short-lived. Steve Ott scored 94 seconds later, pulling the Sabres into a 2-2 tie and setting the stage for Hecht and Flynn to finish off the Sens.
The Sabres return to action Sunday when they host New Jersey.
The game, originally slated to start at 7 p.m., has been rescheduled for 7:30 p.m. to accommodate coverage by the NBC Sports Network.
“Getting down, 2-1, early in the third and having to battle through it, just kind of settling down and realizing, ‘Hey, we’ve just got to work here and get pucks to the net,’ ” said Pardy, who had two assists for the second time in his career. “We do that and we got a couple big goals there.
“It’s opportunities for young guys to play and get more ice time. We responded well.”