OTTAWA – The Sabres finally have a comeback victory. It was a just reward for Robin Lehner, who kept Buffalo close enough to strike.
The Sabres, who had been 0-4 when allowing the first goal and 0-4 when trailing after two periods, stormed back to beat Ottawa, 2-1, Saturday night. Kyle Okposo and Sam Reinhart scored third-period goals to quiet the crowd in Canadian Tire Centre.
The Sabres wouldn't have been in position to win without Lehner. The former Senators goaltender was stellar against his old team, making 31 saves. Several were highlight-reel quality as Ottawa futilely tried to extend its 1-0 lead.
Buffalo came out hot in the third, taking 10 of the opening 13 shots.
Sens’ power play strikes: Buffalo was called for too many men on the ice less than two minutes into the second period, and Ottawa took advantage. Mike Hoffman found an open area in the slot, and he fired Bobby Ryan’s pass over Lehner’s shoulder with 2:42 gone.
Okposo ties it: Okposo, who was the Sabres' best forward through two periods, was rewarded for his work with 1:07 gone in the third. He withstood cross-checks from Dion Phaneuf in front to reach out and tip Jake McCabe's point shot. The goal was Okposo's team-high fifth of the season. He has four goals and 10 points in 13 career games in Ottawa.
Second effort: Reinhart gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead with 11:38 to play. Zemgus Girgensons' shot hit Reinhart in front, and the winger kicked the puck to himself for a scoring chance. After the puck stopped at the goal line, Reinhart whacked it home for his second goal of the season.
Drawing blood: Buffalo defenseman Dmitry Kulikov got Ryan with a high-stick with 10:14 to play. A bloody Ryan disappeared to the dressing room, while Kulikov went to the penalty box for four minutes. The Sabres killed the double-minor.
Going streaking: Johan Larsson earned the secondary assist on Okposo's goal, giving him points in three straight games. The longest point streak of Larsson's career is four games.
Stick with it: Lehner made the save of the night with five minutes left in the first period. Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau undressed defenseman Jake McCabe deep in Buffalo’s zone, then went around Lehner while getting the goalie to the ice. Lehner reached back with his stick to stop Pageau’s shot from crossing the goal line.
Another big save: Lehner made sure the Sabres entered the third period in just a 1-0 hole by making 14 stops during the second. Ryan looked to have his second assist of the night when he fed Mark Stone on a two-on-one, but Lehner stretched out his left pad to turn aside Stone’s great opportunity.
Quiet first: The Senators took nine shots and the Sabres had eight during the scoreless first period. Buffalo’s best chance was its first one. Ryan O’Reilly got a partial breakaway with four minutes gone, but Anderson made the save.
Using his head: Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen escaped injury when Cody Ceci’s slap shot hit him in the back of the helmet late in the first. Ristolainen popped right up and didn’t miss a shift.
Long wait: The Sabres, who beat Ottawa in the final meeting last season, won consecutive games against the Senators for the first time since a six-game streak that ran from Dec. 4, 2010, to Nov. 11, 2011.
Carrier makes debut: William Carrier, called up Friday, played the first NHL game of his career. The Sabres left winger skated with center Derek Grant and right wing Nick Baptiste.
In the booth: With regular announcers Rick Jeanneret and Rob Ray not making the trip, the play-by-play duties fell to Dan Dunleavy while the analyst was Martin Biron. The former Sabres netminder made his debut as the second analyst to Ray on Thursday.
Counting the house: Ottawa announced a crowd of 16,225. The Senators have gotten off to a slow start at the box office, including just 11,061 fans for a victory over Arizona on Oct. 18.
Next: The Sabres will get a One Buffalo night started Monday when they visit the Boston Bruins. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m., with the Buffalo Bills starting in Seattle at 8:30 p.m. The Sabres will return home following the game and host Ottawa on Wednesday in KeyBank Center.