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Shane Pinto has a goal and 3 assists as the Senators roll to 6-2 win over the Sabres

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Shane Pinto had a goal and three assists, and the Ottawa Senators enjoyed a five-goal first-period surge in cruising to a 6-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.

Artem Zub opened the scoring 2:37 in an outing the Senators led 4-0 by the 8:49 mark of the opening period, and Pinto closed the scoring with an empty-net goal. Brady Tkachuk, Boris Katchouk, Jakob Chychrun and Drake Batherson each had a goal and assist in a matchup of two Atlantic Division teams all but mathematically out of playoff contention.

Joonas Korpisalo had 34 saves to improve to 5-1 in his past six starts.

“I thought we came out strong,” Pinto said, breaking into an uncontrollable laugh. “When you start like that, it’s just awesome. I think it was fun out there. We had a fun first period.”

It’s not often the Senators could discuss having fun in a season they’ve played well below expectations, and face the likelihood of missing the playoffs for a seventh straight year.

The outcome was another setback for the Sabres, who continue tumbling out of playoff contention and are in jeopardy of extending their NHL-record postseason drought to a 13th year.

“I was pretty shocked. I thought our season’s on the line,” defenseman Connor Clifton said. “They came in and they gave it to us and we had no answer.”

Clifton and JJ Peterka scored second-period goals for Buffalo. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was yanked after allowing four goals on nine shots. Devon Levi mopped up in allowing one goal on 32 shots.

The Sabres’ flat start was indicative of a team still attempting to get acclimated to playing at home after spending much of the past week on a western road swing that closed with a 4-1 win at Calgary on Sunday. Buffalo lost three of five on the trip and sits eight points out of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Senators fourth line provided the early spark by scoring the first two goals.

Zub opened the scoring by sweeping in a loose puck that dribbled in behind Luukkonen, after he stopped Katchouk’s shot that was deflected in front by Mark Kastelic. Katchouk scored 2:19 later by deflecting in Parker Kelly’s shot from the right circle.

“Right off the bat, the first two goals, they were the ones that produced it, so I think it really helped,” Senators interim coach Jacques Martin said. “It doesn’t change things, but you need to have some production from different people on different nights. And, I think when you look at some of the wins that we’ve had lately, we’ve been getting some production from other people.”

Luukkonen was pulled after Chychrun made it 4-0 by blasting in a shot from the left circle. Tkachuk capped the surge in the final minute to mark the 17th time the Senators have scored at least five goals in one period — and first time since a five-goal second period in a 6-4 win against Montreal on April 23, 2022.

The team record is six, which came in the first period of a 7-1 win over Atlanta on March 21, 2000.

Martin said defenseman Thomas Chabot will be evaluated after leaving the game with an undisclosed injury in the third period.

UP NEXT

Senators: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

Sabres: Resume a five-game homestand against the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

By JOHN WAWROW
AP Hockey Writer

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