Jhonas Enroth posted 32 saves to backstop the Buffalo Sabres' 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday at First Niagara Center.
Kevin Porter, Jochen Hecht and Tyler Ennis each scored once for the Sabres, who have won two straight to keep their postseason chances alive.
With 42 points, Buffalo sits four points back of the New York Rangers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with five games remaining.
"I think the guys in the room believe that they're a playoff team," Sabres coach Ron Rolston said. "We've had some setbacks in the last week, especially the Montreal game. There's a lot of pride in that room and guys were able to bounce back on the weekend and put (in) some good efforts back to back."
Benoit Pouliot netted the lone Tampa Bay tally, while Mathieu Garon gave up all three goals on 22 shots for the Lightning, who have lost three straight and find themselves nine points back of the Rangers with six games left.
"We've hit that point where we're out of the playoff chase, so I think reality at some point sinks in," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "They're only human. They know that we have a few games left and we have no chance for the playoffs, so I think mentally, they're human in there. They know what's going on."
Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos was whistled for slashing just under four minutes into the game, and the Sabres quickly capitalized on the ensuing man advantage. Christian Ehrhoff threw a slick backhand pass from the right point to the low left side for Thomas Vanek, who quickly fed a cutting Ennis for a tap-in from the low right side to make it 1-0 at the 4:09 mark.
Hecht doubled Buffalo's lead eight minutes into the second when he skated into the right circle and rifled a wrister that Garon got a piece of, but it wasn't enough to keep the puck from crossing the goal line and give the Sabres a 2-0 advantage.
Porter's tip-in tally at the 12:37 mark of the second period pushed Buffalo's lead to 3-0, but Pouliot answered just under a minute later by making his way to the front of the net and re-directing Eric Brewer's blast from the left point past Enroth.
Tampa Bay would get no closer, though, as Enroth stopped all 11 shots he faced over the final 20 minutes to secure the much-needed victory for the Sabres.
Tampa Bay went 0-for-1 on the power play, while Buffalo finished 1-for-3 with the man advantage ... Buffalo visits Boston on Wednesday ... Tampa Bay travels to Winnipeg to play the Jets on Tuesday.