BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Steve Ott has quickly won over blue-collar Buffalo fans with his hard-hitting, gritty style, and the forward should become even more popular following a handful of clutch goals.
Ott had the decisive score in the sixth round of the shootout and the Sabres rallied for a 5-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
Two nights earlier, Ott scored twice, including one in overtime, in a 3-2 win at Montreal. And his shootout attempt against Toronto was his first since Oct. 25, 2011, and the fifth overall in his nine-year NHL career.
"I was excited. I'm just glad I was able to go before my 'brother' Mike Weber," Ott said with a laugh, referring to Buffalo's defensive-minded defenseman.
Interim coach Ron Rolston had plenty of confidence in Ott, whose role has gradually increased since being acquired in a trade that sent under-performing center Derek Roy to Dallas last summer.
"He was the guy to go to," Rolston said. "He brings a lot of energy to the team and especially the grit he plays with on a consistent basis. He can be put out in all situations."
With the crowd on its feet cheering Ott to the ice, he drove directly at James Reimer and slipped the puck just inside the right post. Ryan Miller then sealed the win by getting his left pad out to stop former Sabres forward Clarke MacArthur.
Christian Ehrhoff had a goal and two assists for Buffalo, which won consecutive games for only the fourth time this season. Tyler Ennis had a goal and an assist, and Marcus Foligno and Jason Pominville also scored.
Miller stopped 30 shots through overtime, and allowed only Tyler Bozak to score in the tiebreaker.
Nazem Kadri had two goals and an assist for Toronto, which was unable to build off a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay a day earlier. Bozak and Mikhail Grabovski also scored in regulation.
Reimer made 32 saves through OT, but allowed two goals in the shootout, including one to Drew Stafford.
Reimer has allowed four goals in five of seven starts since he returned after missing eight games with a knee injury, but he said there was no reason to be concerned.
"When you score four, you should win. But at least we got a point, which is important," he said. "No reason to pull the alarm, but obviously it's something we're aware of."