This was a major switch for a Sabres fan base that had spent much of the season's first two months chanting "Fire Darcy!"
In the second period, fans had even more to celebrate as the Sabres responded well after Smith opened the scoring 6:25 in with a shot that deflected in off Ehrhoff's knee.
After giving up the first goal for the 19th time this season, the Sabres scored three.
Ott scored a power-play goal midway through the second by converting a rebound at the right post after goalie Jonathan Bernier got a piece of Tyler Myers' blast from the left point.
Ott then had a hand in Foligno's go-ahead goal 5:53 later. Drew Stafford, from his blue line, created a 2-on-1 break by sending a cross-ice pass that hit Ott in stride up the left wing. Driving to the net, Ott slipped the puck through the middle, and Foligno slapped it in before crashing into the net.
Nolan is a noted motivator, and his previous Sabres team earned the tag of being "the hardest working team in hockey."
His influence was apparent on Friday.
The Sabres entered the third period with a lead for only the third time this season. They got off to a solid hard-hitting start — something they had been missing under Rolston as they were outscored 27-3 and outshot 278-142 in the first period this season.
Though the Sabres failed to score in the opening 20 minutes, they carried much of the play and outshot Toronto 10-5.
It was Nolan's first NHL game since he ended a two-year stint with the Islanders with a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Rangers in the 2007-08 season finale.