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Sabres notebook: Johnson’s intuition proves correct

Chad Johnson knew where the puck was headed. He was starting to put his glove out to make the save when he felt a stick hit him.

To be honest he wasn’t sure whose stick it was. It could have been from his own defenseman, Josh Gorges. But as soon as the puck went in the back of the net, he caused a ruckus.

“I knew where it was going and I had some contact and I didn’t know initially if it was Gorges’ stick or the other guys’ but I knew there was contact so I sort of screamed and yelled just to make sure that there was a review there,” Johnson said.

So the Buffalo Sabres challenged. And they won.

Replays showed that it was Arizona’s Martin Hanzal’s stick which interfered with Johnson. The goal was overturned and the Sabres maintained a 4-2 lead over the Arizona Coyotes with 7:57 left in the third period. The Sabres went on for a 5-2 win at First Niagara Center Friday night.

“You really couldn’t see because the player was off to the side of the net,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “But Johnny reacted and given the time left in the game with seven and half minutes we probably were going to challenge that no matter what we heard from upstairs.”

The Sabres had a challenge go in their favor in Nashville when the Predators thought they scored a goal but the officials had waived it off for goalie interference, again against Johnson. Nashville challenged the no-goal call on the ice and the video review confirmed the call.

This time it was called a goal on the ice and a Sabres challenge overturned the call.

“If it wasn’t called interference I would have been pretty upset,” Johnson said. “I knew right away it was interference. … I was happy they were looking at it so they could call it back. It was just a little nerve-wracking not going right away. We were just waiting around. I’m like, ‘What are we waiting for? We need to make sure we get the goal looked at.’ I’m just happy we got that called back.”

The Sabres have had three goals called back this year on offsides challenges.

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Marcus Foligno sounded his barbaric yawp over the ice at First Niagara Center.

The forward had gone 10 games without a point. So when he put in a goal at the side of the net after a hardworking forecheck by his fourth linemates, he let it all come out.

“When I scored I just screamed,” Foligno said. “It was just anger and frustration coming out at the same time but it was excitement and joy too. It’s a good feeling when you score especially in a game where we might have needed that insurance goal big time.”

Foligno’s goal, his second of the year, came at 11:44 of the third giving the Sabres a 4-2 lead.

David Legwand started the play and Nicholas Deslauriers passed him the puck from behind the net with the goaltender at the far post.

“It was a good pass. … I was able to kind of backhand-forehand as quick as possible because I knew that he would be sliding over,” Foligno said. “It trickled in.”

Bylsma said it wasn’t just a big goal for Foligno to get him out of a scoring drought but for the entire line.

“It was a big goal for us and just a right way to get a goal, a forechecking goal,” Bylsma said. “We put a puck in deep there. They go east-west and he finds it with a good opportunity. We’ve been imploring Marcus to shoot more, take advantage of those opportunities. This one happens to be … from a bad angle but the puck went east-west, he had the goalie on the far post and kind of banked it off his skate and in.”

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Tux and Pucks returns to First Niagara Center when the Sabres host the New York Islanders Dec. 31 at 6 p.m. Ticket packages, which includes two 300 Level II tickets and a tuxedo rental from Tuxedo Junction are available for $99. Fans can also be fitted for a tuxedo when the Sabres host the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 12. Beginning at 5 p.m. a fitting room will be located next to the elevators in the main pavilion of First Niagara Center.

email: amoritz@buffnews.com

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