Ryan scored three times Monday night as the Ottawa Senators defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. It was his first three-goal game with the Senators and the fourth of his career.
"It's been a long time, since 2011. It was nice to reward the fans for coming out every night for one, but at the same time to have that feeling back. It's a special feeling and hopefully it's not the last," Ryan said.
Colin Greening was awarded Ottawa's fifth goal with two seconds to play in regulation after he was hauled down on a breakaway by Sabres defenceman Nikita Zadorov with the Sabres' net empty for an extra attacker.
The win snapped a three-game losing slide for the Senators (15-14-8), who got a 19 save-performance from Craig Anderson and a goal from Clarke MacArthur.
Ryan completed his hat trick at 3:03 of the third period and at the same time gave the Senators a 3-2 lead. MacArthur then chipped in a loose puck at the side of the net at 11:54 for a 4-2 advantage.
Jhonas Enroth made 31 saves for the Sabres (14-20-3), who got goals from Mark Pysyk and Zemgus Girgensons.
The Sabres only managed two shots on goal through the final 20 minutes and have now lost five of their past six games following a stretch where they won 10 of 13.
"We're playing hard and we have a lot injuries right now that we have to battle through and we played well until the third period when they took it to us," Sabres forward Tyler Ennis said.
"I don't know if we were tired but they deserved to win. We have to get more than two shots, especially when the game's on the line. Shots have been an issue with us all year and we have to generate more. It wasn't a third period we wanted."
The Sabres went 0-for-4 with the man advantage and only managed three shots on those opportunities. On a third-period power play they were never able to gain control of the puck and set up in the Senators' end.
"We have to play our game and I don't think we did that in the third for sure," Girgensons said.
"The power play has to show up as well. Most of us, including me on the power play, are not getting the job done. We're just not shooting the puck. We're making bad decisions and collectively not working."
Ryan scored the only goal of the first period and likely took away some of the frustration he was feeling after missing the net earlier in the period despite being completely alone at the top of the crease in front of Enroth.
On the goal, Kyle Turris took the initial shot that went off Enroth and the post before coming to Ryan, who was again alone in front. He swatted at the puck and missed originally but had enough time to take another whack and lifted the puck over the fallen netminder.
In the second period the Sabres managed to turn a one-goal deficit into a one-goal advantage before the period was half done.
After taking the original shot on the play, Pysyk tied the game less than two minutes in when he circled the net a chipped a second rebound past Anderson.
At 8:37 of the period Girgensons gave the Sabres their first lead as he redirected a Matt Moulson pass and then dug the puck out of Anderson's pads before putting it into the back of the net.
As time wore down in the period the Senators tied the game as Ryan redirected a behind-the-back pass from Mike Hoffman into the corner past Enroth.
"The second period was one of those things where momentum would swing back and forth. They took charge right off the bat and we were able to get the momentum back by scoring late," Anderson said.
"We really thought we dominated the third period and played to our capabilities."
The Senators are off now until Saturday when they take on the Bruins in Boston.
The Sabres host the Tampa Bay Lightning New Year's Eve.
Notes- defenceman Mark Borowiecki was a scratch for the Senators Monday while defencemen Tyson Strachan and Rasmus Ristolanen along with forward Brian Gionta were scratches for the Sabres…Chris Neil leads all current Senators in goals (nine), assists (15), points (24) and penalty minutes (150) against Buffalo…Nine of the past 12 games between Ottawa and Buffalo have been decided by one goal…The Sabres haven't won in Ottawa since March 10, 2012…Sabres forward Cody McCormick played in his 400th NHL game Monday…The Sabres haven't won consecutive games of the Senators in more than three calendar years.Suggest a correction