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OTTAWA – It would seem that as Andrew Hammond goes, so go the Ottawa Senators.
The man they call the Hamburglar didn't exactly steal a win Friday. He was good enough to keep the Senators close after a five-game road swing in which they went 4-0-1. After a sluggish start against the Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa came back for a 3-2 win.
Mika Zibanejad and Mark Stone scored third-period goals as Ottawa rallied after two early goals against put them in a hole.
Zibanejad scored 1:34 into the third period to tie the game 2-2 after he took pass from Bobby Ryan and beat Anders Lindback. Stone put the Senators ahead for the first time less than two minutes later, scoring on a rebound after Marc Methot was stopped by Lindback on a wraparound attempt.
"We were fortunate to get the win and I don't think I had my best game," said Hammond. "It seemed like I was just fighting it all night, and for a while it seemed like it translated to the team.
"The start of the second period we had a good push back, and in the third as well to get the goals. From there it was just trying to will the rest of the game and play an ugly style of hockey."
Eric Karlsson also scored for the Senators as they won for the seventh time in eight games, all started by the rookie Hammond, who improved to 7-0-1 to start his NHL career.
Hammond made 24 saves and helped Ottawa pull within three points of Boston for the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. Hammond became just the second goaltender in the past 76 years to allow two or fewer goals in his first eight career NHL starts.
Phil Varone and Tyler Ennis found the net for the Sabres, and Lindback stopped 34 shots. Buffalo has lost three straight games and has the NHL's worst record.
"It looked like we should have had more control of the game, but our foot was off the gas," said Varone, who also had an assist.
The Sabres pulled Lindback with a little more than a minute to play, but they were unable to get a shot on goal.
"It's disappointing," said the Sabres goaltender. "We had the lead and we didn't manage to keep it. They came out hard in the third, but I have to come up with the saves that keeps us in the game and I didn't."
The Senators spotted Buffalo's 2-0 lead after the first period, It took just 26 seconds into the second for Ottawa to get on the board.
"We were way too cute early on and not doing the work," Senators coach Dave Cameron said.
Karlsson took a point shot that deflected off Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian and past Lindback.
Buffalo's first goal came as Varone raced into the Ottawa zone and took a back-handed swat at a loose puck that was bouncing toward Hammond. Later in the opening session, Ennis took a shot from the bottom of the faceoff circle that beat Hammond short side through a screen.
NOTES: The Senators play the second of a three-game homestand Sunday when they host Calgary. Buffalo travels to Washington in the fourth of a five-game road trip. ... Jared Cowen and Colin Greening were scratches for the Senators, while the Sabres scratched Zac Dalpe, Tyson Strachan and Chad Johnson. ... The last time the Sabres won in Ottawa was March 10, 2012. ... Ennis' first-period goal was his 200th career point.