As Buffalo continues to struggle for a regulation win, they pulled off another shootout victory Saturday afternoon — thanks to Jack Eichel and Linus Ullmark.
Following a slow first period, the Sabres (4-3-2) started off on the right foot, with Eric Stall scoring off the goalpost mid-way through the second.
With 1:25 left in the second period, Ty Smith tied it up on the power play.
The final period opened with New Jersey (3-3-2) pulling ahead, as Andreas Johnsson caught the Sabres off guard, scoring just 1:37 in. But the Sabres, once again, tied it up less than a minute later — Tobias Rieder. After a lot of back and forth, with almost 9 minutes left, Victor Olofsson scored on the power play to give the Sabres a 3-2 lead. Just when Buffalo thought they had this win under their belts, the Devils tied it up again with a goal scored by Janne Kuokkanen at 14:41.
Buffalo went into overtime for the fourth time in the past five games, but it was not enough time to settle this one. Despite leaving in the second period and missing 12 minutes of game time, Eichel scored the first and only goal in the shootout. It was said he had been struck in the face with the puck and he returned to the ice with an ear guard. The Sabres take the first of the two-game series against the Devils, 4-3.
Following this game, Ullmark has stopped 9 of 10 attempts in shootouts this season and is 2-1 in them. Overall, he saved 31 shots in regulation and all three he faced during the shootout. The Sabres have earned 8 out of 10 possible points.
“It shows great character. We have been down in a lot of these games and it’s good to come back and win when we aren’t playing as well as we want,” Olofsson said postgame. “At the same time, we need to step it up here.”
Buffalo was without Sam Reinhart who suffered an upper-body injury Thursday— Coach Krueger said he would be day-to-day. Rookie Dylan Cozen’s replaced him on power play line early in the game. This the first game in 246 consecutive that Reinhart has missed (since March 28, 2017).
The Sabres will meet the Devils for a rematch on Sunday at 1 p.m.