A game that was pretty much dreaded turned out to be a weight lifted off of Buffalo’s shoulders.
Captain Jack Eichel, who was on a pointless five-game streak, scored one minute and ten seconds into overtime, sealing the Sabres victory and breaking the team’s losing streak. The 4-3 win over Calgary is exactly what Buffalo needed, especially after the biggest blowout of the season Monday night versus the New York Islanders (7-2).
“It was a positive bench all night,” Eichel said following the game. “Through the adversity, through the ups and downs, everyone was staying up. We really had the mindset that we were going to win no matter what. When that’s going down the bench and the whole team feels that way, it’s a good feeling.”
Although Calgary opened up the scoring with a goal from Johnny Gaudreau — his 28th of the season — with a half a second left in the first period, the Sabres did not give up the fight. Evan Rodrigues tied it up in the second period before Matthew Tkachuk brought the Flames into the lead at 6:49 in the third period. Rasmas Dahlin answered 45 seconds later with a slap shot over David Rittich’s glove. Dahlin had a record night — His goal extended his point streak to five games, matching the longest such run by an 18-year-old defenseman in NHL history. Less than three minutes later, Jake McCabe brought the Sabres to a 3-2 lead. After holding onto the lead, the Flames would tie the game with a goal from Noah Hanifin and send it into overtime. Buffalo was outshot 12-3 in third period and overtime, but they managed to score on all three of those shots.
“I said it last game, sometimes those games make you come together even more,” Rodrigues said. “I think it kind of showed today. We battled through the whole game.”
“I just liked the response from our guys,” coach Phil Housley said. “If you went right up and down our lineup, everybody contributed. Obviously Linus made some key saves for us, but we had some really good looks starting right off the bat.”
The Sabres (24-17-6) have their last game before the All-Star by-week Friday night against the Vancouver Canucks. Leaving Canada with a win would place them just two points outside of a playoff spot.