Michael Houser made 43 saves in his season debut as the Buffalo Sabres downed the Ottawa Senators 3-1 on Tuesday night.
Houser is the sixth goaltender to start a game for Buffalo this season.
It was the Senators’ first home game since Dec. 11 and it was played without fans, something the Sabres haven’t had to do since last year.
Mark Jankowski, Dylan Cozens and Alex Tuch scored for the Sabres (12-20-7).
Drake Batherson had the lone goal for Ottawa (11-19-2), while Anton Forsberg made 30 saves in net.
The Senators had been looking for a third straight win as they returned from a two-game road trip in Western Canada.
With the game tied 1-1 the Sabres scored the go-ahead goal at the midway mark of the third period in a bizarre sequence of events.
Things started when Erik Brannstrom ran Kyle Okposo into the boards right between the benches. The hit created a reaction as players from both teams came in, but the play went on and Jankowski broke in with Ottawa’s Josh Brown trailing and beat Forsberg stick side, while most of the other players were caught watching.
Tuch added some insurance for Buffalo with 40 seconds left to play, putting the puck into an empty net.
Down 1-0 in the second, the Senators tied the game with Batherson’s first power-play goal of the season. Batherson took a pass down low and while his initial shot was stopped he picked up his own rebound and lifted it over Houser.
Houser got off to a great start as he made a big save on Alex Formenton on a breakaway and then followed up with a big stop on Tim Stutzle on the rebound.
Buffalo opened the scoring midway through the period as Cozens got pushed off the puck on the rush and then picked it right back up and let a shot go that beat Forsberg glove side.
Notes: Filip Gustavsson was recalled from AHL Belleville late Tuesday after Matt Murray became ill, but not COVID-related and was unable to dress. Vinnie Hinostroza did not travel with the Sabres as he was injured in the Sabres 3-2 overtime loss to Detroit on Monday afternoon.