OTTAWA -- For the first time this season, Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson gave up goals after the first period.
And for the first time in three starts, he received some offensive support from his teammates.
Four Senators lit the lamp as Ottawa defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 Tuesday at Scotiabank Place.
"We skated, we drove the net, we put pucks to the net," said Ottawa coach Paul MacLean, whose team had scored just once in the two games since top center Jason Spezza had back surgery. "I thought we were more ourselves as a group, and that led to us getting some goals."
Nobody was surprised at the close result -- it was the 32nd time in the past 41 meetings between the two teams that the game was decided by two goals or fewer.
The uncommon occurrence was Anderson being beaten in the second and third periods. Through his first eight starts, all nine goals he had allowed were scored in the first period of play.
Anderson, now 6-2-1, was called on to make a couple of big saves in the final moments when the Sabres were pressing hard with an extra attacker.
"Well, that's what he does," MacLean said.
Scoring for the Senators were defensemen Erik Karlsson and Chris Phillips, as well as wingers Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Neil.
Providing the Sabres' offense were Tyler Ennis, Jordan Leopold and Jason Pominville.
"We battled back, gave ourselves a chance, had a great look at the end ... I don't know who it was that had it point blank in the slot, and I think he had two whacks at it," said Pominville, who scored his sixth of the season with 6:05 remaining in the third to set up a dramatic finish. "We gave ourselves an opportunity, but I think when you're going good, those find a way to go in, and when things aren't going your way, they don't go in."
Indeed, the loss was the Sabres' third in a row and left them with a troublesome 3-6-1 record. With the victory, Ottawa ended a two-game skid and improved to 6-3-1.
Karlsson put the Senators on the board first by scoring on the power play, but Ennis got that one back 21 seconds later when he was left all alone in front of Anderson.
Phillips gave the Ottawa a lead that it would never relinquish when he slipped a wrist shot from just inside the right-wing circle past Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth.
"That's a goal I wish I could have back," Enroth said. "I don't know what to say. It got through me. It's not good."
When Alfredsson's second of the season gave his team a 3-1 lead after one, the Senators appeared to be in full control -- especially the way Anderson had been shutting the door through the final 40 minutes every night. Then Neil extended the lead to 4-1 with his third of the season before Jordan Leopold netted his first.
Contributing a couple of assists for the Senators was center Peter Regin, who had zero points through the first nine games. If he can continue to produce, he'd help alleviate concerns about the offense minus Spezza.
"In this business, it's about results, and when you get a couple of points, you feel better about the game," said Regin, whose last two seasons ended prematurely due to shoulder surgeries. "Hopefully the monkey is off my back now."
NOTES: The Senators have faced the opponent's backup goalie in three of the past four games ... Enroth, who entered the night with a 5.26 goals-against average and .854 save percentage in two previous appearances this season, is still looking for his first win since Nov. 26, 2011, a stretch that had seen him compile a 0-10-3 record. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff no doubt considered Enroth's career record versus Ottawa (3-0-1, 2.16 GAA, .939 save percentage) when making the decision on a starting goalie. ... Recalled from AHL Binghamton on Monday, Ottawa's Stephane Da Costa is only the second player born in France currently playing in the NHL. The other is Dallas Stars winger Antoine Roussel. ... It was fitting that Leopold scored his first goal of the season. He had three goals and six points against the Senators in 2011-12.