OTTAWA -- Dean McAmmond's intentions were clear. The only question was where he was going to aim his shot.
The veteran center put a wrist shot past Jocelyn Thibault into the top left corner after each team scored once in the first five shootout rounds.
"How many times have you ever seen me deke a goalie out in a game?" McAmmond said. "I was going to go glove hand but he was taking it away. That's my strong shot but I just think I caught him a little bit trying to adjust and I ended up beating him."
Martin Gerber, who stopped 22 shots during the game, denied Jochen Hecht on Buffalo's sixth attempt to give Ottawa its third consecutive victory.
Daniel Alfredsson scored his fifth short-handed goal of the season late in the second to give Ottawa a 2-0 lead.
Shean Donovan opened the scoring 24 seconds into the second and Alfredsson scored Ottawa's 10th short-handed goal of the season at 17:08.
Clarke MacArthur scored early in the third for Buffalo, which is in the midst of its longest skid in five years.
Daniel Paille drew the Sabres even at 2 with his sixth goal 12:52 into the third period. Paille took Paul Gaustad's pass and beat Gerber with a 35-foot wrist shot.
"I think it was really important to get that win," Gerber said. "It's definitely not the way you want to get it but at the end of the day you've got to be happy with it. You don't want to blow a 2-0 lead but they created some chances at the end and they worked hard for it."
The Sabres, who hadn't lost eight in a row since Jan. 25-Feb. 13, 2003, began their 0-4-4 slide with a 5-3 loss to Ottawa on Dec. 26.
With Maxim Afinogenov and Derek Roy already sidelined, Buffalo had to do without center Tim Connolly, who is hampered by a groin injury.
"I mean, that's a pretty good line right there," MacArthur said. "That's a lot of depth we're losing."
Sabres defenseman Jaroslav Spacek did not return after the second because of back spasms.
"I thought we put up a real good battle with a depleted lineup," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We went into the third period without Spacek, and probably shouldn't have played the second period, and with the guys we had out up front I thought the effort we got -- we had them on the ropes in the third period and we missed a couple of opportunities to put them away but we got rewarded again for sticking with it."
The Senators, who lead the Eastern conference with 60 points, will play host to league-leading Detroit on Saturday in a matchup between the NHL's top two teams.
"It's going to be a big game," Ottawa center Jason Spezza said. "I haven't had much time to think about it since this one just ended, but I'm sure (Friday) the excitement will build up. They've got a good hockey club and we know we can't make as many mistakes as we made tonight, but I'm sure we'll be sharper."
Thibault made his first start since Dec. 6, when he allowed four goals in the first period of an 8-2 loss in Los Angeles.
Donovan scored his fifth goal when he drove the net to receive Chris Kelly's flip pass from the left side over a sliding Spacek and redirected the puck past Thibault.
Alfredsson, elected as a first-time starter Tuesday for his fifth All-Star game, scored his team-leading 26th goal at 17:08. The Senators' captain faked a slap shot and hesitated on a 2-on-1 with Mike Fisher before putting a wrist shot past Thibault from the right side.
MacArthur drew the Sabres within one with his fifth goal early in the third. The Buffalo left wing turned sideways to receive Jason Pominville's cross-ice pass from the right side and deked to his right when Gerber challenged him to put the puck into a wide-open net.