Just like the crowd that walked through a bitter downtown wind, it took the Buffalo Sabres a while to warm up in KeyBank Center. Then they got hot.
A three-goal second period ignited the Sabres, pushing them to a 3-2 victory over Ottawa on Tuesday night. The Sabres have points in four straight games, going 2-0-2 to move to 8-17-6 this season.
It was a rare treat for the appreciative home fans. Buffalo improved to 4-9-1 at home, including 2-6 in the last eight.
Ottawa fell to 1-10-2 in its last 13 games, including 1-5-1 on a now-complete seven-game road trip.
Rush chairman: Buffalo's Benoit Pouliot opened the scoring with an impressive goal. He accepted a pass at his own blue line, danced between Ottawa's Dion Phaneuf and Derick Brassard at the Ottawa blue line and slipped a backhand between the pads of goaltender Mike Condon.
— NHL (@NHL) December 13, 2017
The goal with 4:13 gone in the second was Pouliot's eighth in 31 games, matching the total he put up in 67 games with Edmonton last season.
Fast work: The Sabres made it 2-0 just 1:12 later on a give-and-go by Kyle Okposo and Ryan O'Reilly. Okposo left the puck behind the Ottawa net for O'Reilly, then circled to the front. O'Reilly found him for a shot that again went five-hole.
More power to them: After going 10 games without a power-play goal, the Sabres struck with the man-advantage for the third straight game. Evander Kane unleashed a one-timer from the right circle with 7:27 left in the second, giving Buffalo a 3-0 lead.
Kane extended his point streak to five games, his longest run since an eight-game streak during the 2012-13 season.
Snapping the shutout: Ottawa defenseman Cody Ceci could have cursed his luck midway through the third, but instead he potted his third goal of the year. Ceci's shot from the slot hit the left post and zoomed across the goal line to strike the right post. It then caromed back to Ceci, who fired again and found the net with 13:17 remaining.
Making it close: With Condon pulled for the extra attacker, Brassard connected through a screen with 51.4 seconds left.
Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner finished with 24 saves on 26 shots.
Killers: The Sabres' penalty killers improved to 35 for 38 at home this season by squashing a five-on-three midway through the second. Justin Falk blocked two shots, Lehner made three saves and the trio of Scott Wilson, Zemgus Girgensons and Rasmus Ristolainen had an extended shift to keep Ottawa off the scoreboard.
Quiet first: The Sabres and Senators skated through a scoreless opening period that featured few quality chances. Ottawa had six shots and Buffalo took five.
Back quickly: Taking a puck to the face barely slowed Sabres center Evan Rodrigues. He was defending the Senators' Mark Stone in front of Buffalo's net when a shot from the point struck him in the face. Rodrigues retreated to the trainers' room with 6:16 left in the first, but he returned to the ice three minutes later.
Changes up front: The Sabres' top line didn't feature Jack Eichel centering for Kane as coach Phil Housley split up the team's top two scorers. Eichel was in the middle of Pouliot and right wing Jason Pominville. Kane skated with Rodrigues and right wing Sam Reinhart. O'Reilly centered for Girgensons and Okposo, while Johan Larsson skated between Wilson and Jordan Nolan.
Not ready: Nathan Beaulieu has yet to fully recover from his illness, so the Sabres defenseman missed his fourth straight game. He took part in the morning skate and is listed as day-to-day.
Victor Antipin was the healthy scratch on defense for the second straight game.
First scratch: Forward Hudson Fasching sat after playing a team-low 6:47 during Sunday's overtime loss in St. Louis. Fasching had one shot in his opening four games after being recalled from Rochester.
Roaring anthem: With "The Lion King" in town for an extended run at Shea's Performing Arts Center, the Sabres brought in Nia Holloway for the national anthem. Fans responded with enthusiastic applause following the performance by Holloway, who stars as Nala in the musical.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) December 13, 2017
Counting the house: The Sabres announced 17,454 tickets sold, but there were far fewer in attendance, probably just more than half of that total. The small crowd included the crew of the new USS Little Rock, which is in Buffalo to be commissioned.
Weeknight + 19 degrees + teams that are in combined 3-18-6 slump = a limited number of brave souls in the seats. pic.twitter.com/mERWkdC3HT
— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) December 13, 2017
Next: The Sabres have back-to-back games coming against the bottom two teams in the Metropolitan Division. They visit seventh-place Philadelphia on Thursday and host last-place Carolina on Friday.