Sean Monahan scored at the 2:26 mark of the overtime period to lead the Calgary Flames to a 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta. Sam Reinhart took a hard hit in the numbers behind the net that separated him from the puck, leading to the game-winner.
Asked by a Flames’ beat reporter about the play that led to the OT winner, head coach Dan Bylsma gave a severe, “You mean the cross-check in the back?”
Robin Lehner agreed that a penalty should have been a result of the hit.
“There has to be a call there,” Lehner said. “He hits him from behind. It’s clear… it was a terrible ref performance today.”
The Flames scored three of the game’s last four goals to spoil Sabres’ Equipment Manager Rip Simonick’s 3,500th NHL game. Through two periods of the sea-saw affair, goals were coming as each team had a series of defensive breakdowns and giveaways.
The tying goal was scored by Matthew Tkachuk, the first of his career. It was a wrister that beat Robin Lehner on the short side.
Marcus Foligno figured prominently in each team’s third goal. He went top shelf-far side on a beautiful individual effort just two minutes after a terrible giveaway that allowed Michael Ferland to beat a defenseless Robin Lehner, tying the game.
The Sabres had started strong in the first ten minutes, playing Dan Bylsma’s structured defensive scheme. Lapses by the defense and lack of rebound control tilted the ice in the other direction for the next twenty minutes.
At the 4:24 mark of the second period, Calgary held possession of the puck deep in the Sabres zone as both Josh Gorges and Marcus Foligno took penalties. It didn’t take long for the Sabres’ leader, Ryan O’Reilly to take matters into his own hands. He drew a penalty and coached his teammates into playing keep-away for nearly a full minute before the referee could blow the whistle to stop the clock. This eliminated the majority of the Flames two-man advantage and set the tone for the remainder of the period.
A frustrated Calgary squad then got into some penalty trouble themselves, taking two in a 90 second span, leading to the Sabres second goal. Ryan O’Reilly knocked in his third of the season, past former Sabre Chad Johnson, a power play tally from Rasmus Ristolainen and Kyle Okposo.
Michael Frolik scored the Flames first goal on a disputed play. The whistle had audibly blown before the puck went into the net and the referee signaled ‘no goal’. Lehner had been prone on the ice, thinking that he was laying on top of the puck when Frolik tucked it home. After a short meeting of the zebras, the goal was allowed despite the early whistle.
Zemgus Girgensons opened the scoring on a quick redirection of a Tyler Ennis set-up. The goal was caused in large part by tremendous forechecking of the line, especially Nick Baptiste playing in his first NHL regular season game. Girgensons had missed a tip-in attempt on the previous shift.
It has now been 13 years to the day since the Sabres have won in Calgary. They hope to have better luck on Thursday at 10 p.m. EST against the Vancouver Canucks.