Ristolainen wins it in OT

Rasmus Ristolainen scored less than a minute into overtime as the Sabres came from behind to beat the Islanders by a score of 3-2 Friday night at the KeyBank Center.

Kyle Okposo led the 2-on-1 break after a big save on the opposite end from Robin Lehner. Okposo was skating with Ryan O’Reilly, but didn’t force the pass across the ice. Instead, he came to a stop, and with his eyes up found the trailing Ristolainen, who buried his 2nd goal of the season to finish off the win.

Both of the 22 year-old defenseman’s goals this season have been overtime winners.

The Sabres did not hold a lead at any point tonight, yet still managed to come away with two points.

Lehner continuously kept the Sabres in the game, making big saves throughout. On one occasion, the puck was shuffled in front of the net to Andrew Ladd, who was looking at nothing but twine. However, Lehner managed to come across the crease and make a highlight reel save with the right pad.

The Swedish netminder bailed out the rest of his team with just over three minutes to go in the 2nd period. Buffalo couldn’t get a stick on the puck to clear the zone and John Tavares ended up with an uncontested slapper that Lehner pushed away. Immediately after, Ristolainen had a rare giveaway that ended with Josh Bailey alone on Lehner. Once again, Lehner made the crucial stop when needed.

A last occasion to gloat about Lehner came earlier in the 2nd period. Jake McCabe missed his neutral zone check attempt letting the Islanders come in on a 2-on-1 opportunity. Lehner read the cross-ice pass, came out of his net to cut down the angle and forced a wide shot attempt.

Both of the Sabres’ regulation goals came with a bit of luck, although they’re not ones to complain. They got on the board after Tavares went down on the ice and it was virtually a 5-on-4 opportunity even though Tavares was still in the defensive zone.

Ristolainen fired the shot on net from the point, and Johan Larsson got the deflection in front to pot his 5th score of the year. Larsson would have been Tavares’ man had he stayed in the play. The Sabres did a great job on the forecheck, keeping the puck in the offensive zone for an extended time.

The second goal came on the man advantage a little more than three minutes into the final frame. After the 2nd power-play unit looked lost for most of its time on ice, the puck settled in front of Islanders goalie Jean-Francois Berube. Matt Moulson managed to get a stick on it and jam it home to tie the game at two apiece.

While Eichel didn’t break into the scoring column, his play continues to impress coming off his return from a high ankle sprain. He did head to the locker room late in the 3rd period, but came back out to play a final shift and start the overtime session.

Sam Reinhart struggled all night. He oftentimes found himself out of position, and was caught looking for a home run pass before Buffalo got possession of the puck. The puck was flipped to the area he should have been and the Islanders ended up with a longer offensive zone possession. The 2014 2nd overall pick was only “credited” with two giveaways, but his misplays seemed to come up in big spots throughout the contest.

The Sabres hit the road for Raleigh, N.C. to play the Hurricanes on Saturday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm at PNC Arena.

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