A visit by Jonas Hiller and the woeful Calgary Flames, 1-8-1 in their last ten games, was just what the doctor ordered for the Buffalo Sabres.
Buffalo’s struggling offense, with just four goals in their last four games, erupted for a 6-3 victory with six different Sabres chipping in a goal. Robin Lehner, finally getting some support, took the win. With a goal and 2 assists tonight, Marcus Foligno notched his 2nd career 3-point game and earned first star honors.
The Sabres own the Flames at home, and are now 10-0-1 in their last 11 in Buffalo.
The first period was a snoozer, with the Flames not even registering a shot for more than seventeen minutes. Still, it was scoreless after one period of play.
Mikael Backlund opened the scoring for the Flames 3:18 into the 2nd period, jamming home a rebound shortside over Robin Lehner’s right shoulder. Mark Pysyk failed to take the man, whiffed on the puck, and Backlund made him pay.
Rasmus Ristolainen, the newly-named Team Finland defender, tied it up at one aside, off a beauty of a backhand feed from captain Brian Gionta. Ristolainen came in from the point and ripped home his first goal in 22 games. Four of his nine goals are against Calgary.
The next three goals–one shorthanded, one power play and one at even strength–were scored in a span of 1:17.
With Calgary on the power play, Marcus Foligno gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead, burning past TJ Brodie with a spectacular effort, then lighting the lamp by going short side, top shelf past Hiller. The goal was reminiscent of Brad May’s infamous “May Day” goal against the Bruins. It was Buffalo’s fourth shortie of the season.
Dougie Hamilton quickly answered, fifteen seconds later, tying the game at two with a power play goal.
Nick Deslauriers gave the Sabres the lead again, rifling home his 4th of the season. His sick wrister from the left circle went glove side under the bar, for a 3-2 lead. It was Deslauriers first goal in 42 games.
Sean Monahan tied it up at 3 apiece, tucking one past Lehner with 16:04 left in the 3rd.
The Sabres got the lead back for good with 10:29 to go. Johan Larsson roofed a backhand zinger for his fourth of the year to give the Sabres a 4-3 lead. Three of Larsson’s four goals this season have been game winners.
The Sabres power play was a terrible 0-for-7 before Jack Eichel’s wrister made it 5-3, his first goal in 8 games. Evander Kane scored an empty net goal to end the night.
For the second straight game, Jake McCabe got injured in the closing minutes. He blocked a shot and hobbled to the trainer’s room with left foot injury. Also Cal O’Reilly took a big hit from Joe Colborne and immediately went to the locker room. The extent of their injuries remains to be seen.
The Sabres will finish off their three-game home stand by hosting Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek and the Minnesota Wild in a Saturday matinee matchup at 1 p.m.