BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Rasmus Dahlin and rookie JJ Peterka scored 2:54 apart in the second period, and the Buffalo Sabres rallied to beat the Ottawa Senators 4-1 in the teams’ season opener on Thursday night.

Craig Anderson stopped 35 shots and Victor Olofsson sealed the victory by scoring two empty-net goals in the final 42 seconds.

The Sabres began carrying over the momentum from closing last season showing signs of jelling in winning 16 of their final 27 games. Though Buffalo set an NHL record for missing the playoffs for an 11th straight season, the fifth-place finish in the Atlantic Division was its best since placing third in 2011-12.

Senators captain Brady Tkachuk snapped in a shot from the left circle on a 3-on-2 break to open the scoring midway through the first period. The Senators were undone by their power play, which finished 0 of 4, including failing to convert a two-man advantage spanning 49 seconds in the second period.

Anton Forsberg stopped 32 shots in opening the season as the Senators starter in place of Cam Talbot, who is expected to miss another four to six weeks with an upper-body injury.

With Bills star quarterback Josh Allen in attendance and wearing a Sabres’ No. 89 Alex Tuch jersey, Peterka scored his first career NHL goal to tie the score 4:31 into the second period by completing a give-and-go with linemate Dylan Cozens on a rush up the right wing.

Dahlin then did much of the hefty lifting in scoring the go-ahead goal. Dahlin started the play by gaining the Senators blue line before dishing a pass and heading to the front of the net. The defenseman was left there alone when he was set up by a pass from Peyton Krebs from behind the Ottawa net.

The 41-year-old Anderson, who re-signed with Buffalo after contemplating retirement this summer, picked up his 309th career victory, which ranks fifth among American-born goalies.

Anderson’s best save came with 7:40 remaining, when he dived and poked the puck off of the stick of Tim Stutzle driving in from left circle. Anderson also got his arm out to stop Claude Giroux’s snap shot on a 2-on-1 break with under three minutes left.

The season-opening matchup was between two division rivals who have spent much of the past few years rebuilding through youth to develop into playoff contenders.

The Senators, with two playoff appearances in the previous nine years, appeared ahead of the Sabres in their rebuild by spending the offseason signing Giroux, the former Flyers captain, and acquiring Alex DeBrincat in a trade with Chicago. The Sabres, meantime, mostly stood pat with a lineup that features 21 of 23 members who played at least one game for Buffalo last season.

In Remembrance

The Sabres held a pregame ceremony honoring the families of those shot in a racially motivated attack at a Buffalo supermarket in May. Both teams then gathered behind the family members on the ice during a moment of silence. The Sabres announced they will have the words, “Choose Love,” on their helmets this season.

Debut

Senators rookie D Jake Sanderson, selected fifth in the 2020 draft, made his NHL debut. He’s the son of former NHL forward Geoff Sanderson, who spent three of his 17 seasons playing with Buffalo.

They said it

“I might be the first guy to sign a long-term deal before scoring my first goal.”

— Sabres defenseman Mattias Samuelsson, who has no goals and 12 assists in 54 NHL career games, a day after signing a seven-year, $30 million contract extension.

Up Next

Senators: At the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Sabres: Host the Florida Panthers on Saturday.