The Buffalo Sabres got some breaks early, and for awhile it seemed that was about all they could muster against the San Jose Sharks.
And then things got interesting.
After opening the scoring, the Sabres surrendered four straight goals to the Sharks and found themselves in a 4-1 hole well into the third. But a powerplay goal from Ryan O’Reilly sparked the Sabres to life and Evander Kane and Kyle Okposo scored less than a minute apart to knot the game up at four. Kane would then clinch the game on a beautiful feed from Jack Eichel in overtime, giving the Sabres a ridiculous 5-4 win.
The third seemed like it was going to be a slow, painful march to the finish for the Sabres. After not producing much of anything on offense down 3-1, the Sabres even found a new way to take a penalty with Justin Bailey whiffing on a dump in and catching Paul Martin right in the face for high sticking. That man advantage allowed Joe Pavelski to score to make it 4-1 Sharks.
Then the guys wearing blue woke up in a big way. A hooking call on otherworldly Sharks’ defenseman Brent Burns allowed O’Reilly to break through on the power play to make it 4-2. About two and a half minutes later Kane would make it 4-3 on a wraparound on a play that was followed by a lengthy, but inconclusive offside challenge from the Sharks. Not a minute later Okposo cashed in on a beautiful cross ice feed from Sam Reinhart to tie the game up.
In overtime, after Eichel missed on a great chance a bit earlier, he and Kane came down on a 2-on-1 that was finished by Kane, winning the game for the Sabres with his 16th of the season.
“That’s how we need to play for 60 minutes, if we do that, we will be a real hard team to beat.” – Eichel on the way the Sabres played the last stretch.
The Sabres’ first ten minutes was not as good as their last ten or so minutes, but they certainly got a big break when an apparent Sharks goal was overturned when the referee deemed the whistle had gone prior to the goal. Matt Moulson scored soon after on the powerplay to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead.
Anders Nilsson did not have one of his best games as a Sabre, but he did enough to get the two points. He stopped 36 of 40 Sharks shots to earn the victory. The Sabres threw 36 shots on net themselves, with 17 of them coming in the third.
Something to note: Kane went hard into the boards on the winning goal and was in obvious discomfort when he was able to get up. It looked like it was something that could bear watching.
The Sabres will look to follow this up Thursday night against the Anaheim Ducks. Puck drop is at 7pm in Buffalo.