For the second time in as many games, it took a comeback and extra time for the Sabres to pull out a win. This one, a 4-3 victory over the Pacific Division-leading Vancouver Canucks comes in a shootout – the first for the Sabres this season.
Fittingly enough, on military appreciation day, the Sabres displayed a ton of character and resiliency in coming back in a game that appeared all but lost.
Sam Reinhart was one of the catalysts in leading the Sabres comeback. With under three minutes left in the third period, from behind the Vancouver net, he fed Jeff Skinner with a pass which then Skinner roofed past goalie Jacob Markstrom, cutting the Vancouver lead to 3-2.
Less than a minute later, again with the goalie pulled, Rasmus Ristolainen flung a harmless-looking shot towards the net, forcing Markstrom to make a save and giving up a huge rebound. Reinhart found himself in front with an open net, notching his second goal of the season and tying the game at three.
Before regulation came to a close though, the Sabres found themselves with more adversity. Evan Rodrigues took a tripping penalty with about a minute left. The penalty-kill stood tall though, as they did all game. The Sabres killed all four of Vancouver’s power-plays, including another one that came in overtime when Jeff Skinner took a tripping penalty.
In the first shootout this season the Sabres erased all the poor memories of shootouts from seasons prior. Both Jack Eichel and Casey Mittelstadt scored for Buffalo, while Carter Hutton stopped two of the three shots he faced from the Canucks.
Despite the flashy comeback win, most of the game looked ugly for the Sabres. Vancouver played a solid road game and took the game over in the latter portions of the second period.
Loui Eriksson got Vancouver on the board 18:16 into the period, scoring his fourth goal of the season. On a stellar pass from Markus Granlund to the slot, Eriksson eluded coverage from the Sabres defence and buried one past Carter Hutton, tying the game at one.
Only moments later Jake Virtanen stormed down the ice scoring his 7th goal of the season on a backhand shot. The puck trickled on the ice past Hutton, a soft goal he undoubtedly wants back. Within 1:10 the Canucks found themselves with two goals and a 2-1 lead.
Hopes for a strong third period from the Sabres were quickly quieted as Canuck’s defenseman Erik Gudbranson scored 3:44 into the period, his second goal of the season. On a delayed penalty, Gudbranson ripped one from the point past Hutton giving Vancouver a commanding 3-1 lead at the time.
In staying resilient, the Sabres showcased that they can win games in a variety of ways – a trait of good teams. Another positive trend continued as well for Buffalo: goals from defenseman. Nathan Beaulieu got the Sabres on the board first in this one, notching his second goal of the season.
He snuck in behind the play and buried a beautiful pass from Kyle Okposo. You’ll notice Beaulieu was in the exact same spot on the ice during Vladimir Sobotka’s second goal from last game. That’s now eight goals from Sabres defence this season.
The Sabres improve to 9-6-2, good for 20 points and third place in the Atlantic Division. They play a really good team next in the Tampa Bay Lightning. That game is slated for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m on NBCSN.