OTTAWA -- Left winger Milan Michalek's second goal of the game with 21 seconds left in regulation lifted the Ottawa Senators to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
Michalek took a pass from center Jason Spezza and ripped a wrist shot past Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth from the slot to secure the win after Ottawa had blown a two-goal lead in the third period.
The victory allowed the Senators (26-21-11) to keep pace in the Eastern Conference wild-card race. It was their second in a row and marked the fifth time in the last six games that the Senators emerged with at least a point.
It was also the fourth loss in a row for the Sabres (15-34-8), who pressed hard for the equalizer but could not get the puck over the line in a last-second scramble.
Defenseman Erik Karlsson had the other Senators' goal. Center Tyler Ennis and winger Drew Stafford replied for the Sabres.
Senators goalie Craig Anderson, whose bid for a fourth shutout ended with 9:35 left, stopped 30 shots.
Enroth made 33 saves.
After a scoreless first period in which Ottawa outshot Buffalo 11-7, Karlsson beat Enroth with a wrist shot from the right wing boards at 3:12 of the second period. It was Karlsson's 15th goal of the season.
Michalek increased the lead to 2-0 when he scored at the 10-second mark of the third period, tapping in a setup from center Jason Spezza.
The Sabres appeared to cut their deficit in half with 14 minutes left in the third when Ennis intercepted a Senators clearing attempt and sent a backhander past Anderson. But replays showed the puck hit both posts without crossing the line.
Five minutes later, Ennis made no mistake when he took a pass from Stafford, who was sprawled behind the Ottawa net, and fired it into the open side.
Stafford tied the score with 4:14 left in regulation, firing a shot into the net after Anderson allowed a juicy rebound off a point shot from defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.
NOTES: Senators D Chris Phillips sat out his sixth game with a lower-body injury and is also unlikely to play when the team concludes its pre-break schedule with an afternoon meeting on Saturday in Boston. Heading into 2013-14, Phillips had missed just three games in the previous seven seasons. ... Senators C Stephane Da Costa continues to impress as a spark for the fourth line. On Thursday, he was in the lineup for the eighth time in nine games since his recall from Binghamton. He had three goals in his previous four outings as well as an important shootout goal in St. Louis. And in the second period against the Sabres, he had an assist on a goal by D Erik Karlsson. Coach Paul MacLean says Da Costa has improved defensively and in the faceoff circles since being demoted after the team's first five games of the season. ... Sabres G Ryan Miller served as backup after facing 34 shots in a 5-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Monday. Starting between the pipes was G Jhonas Enroth, who was playing in his 20th game and looking for his second win. His lone victory came Oct. 25 against Florida. ... Sabres D Tyler Myers was scratched from the lineup for a second consecutive game. Joining him in the pressbox were RW/LW Marcus Foligno and RW/LW Linus Omark. ... The three previous games played between the two clubs this season were decided by one goal. The lone victory by Buffalo went to a shootout.