The moment the second goal went in, jokes replaced the dark cloud on the Sabres’ bench.
“We all kind of felt a lot better,” Buffalo center Sam Reinhart said Monday night. “We joked on the bench saying, ‘This is the first time in a while we’ve had two goals in a game.’
“We all relaxed a little bit and were able to find our game.”
The Sabres found their game in a hurry Monday night, scoring three power-play goals in 1:41 to sprint past Calgary, 4-2. For a team that had been staring at ones and zeros on the scoreboard, the flashing red light and resulting cheers in KeyBank Center did a number on the doldrums that had filtered from stall to stall.
“It was a great chance for us to get some goal scorers and get some guys that we needed on the board,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “The power-play goals were huge for us. They gave us the opportunity to get our best guys on the ice and have a chance to score a goal, but I think it also gave our team a deep, deep breath and a sigh of relief about putting the puck in the back of our net.”
As the Sabres repeatedly struggled to score – they hadn’t topped two goals in November and reached the number just once in regulation during their previous seven games – the drought weighed on players.
Kyle Okposo, goal-less in seven games, felt it. So did Reinhart, the playmaker who was held without an assist in nine straight. Rasmus Ristolainen hadn’t reached the score sheet in seven games. Evander Kane was on it just once in the same amount of time.
They all contributed to the victory, meaning all they have to think about when Detroit visits Wednesday is beating the Red Wings.
“Hopefully, we can take that confidence into Wednesday and roll with it,” Okposo said. “We’ve got to find a way to get the next two points at home.”
Okposo started the rally from a 1-0 deficit, taking a feed from Reinhart and sending it high into the net. Just 36 seconds later, Kane picked up an assist when Johan Larsson tipped his shot. Okposo doubled his fun 1:05 later by setting up Matt Moulson for an easy goal.
The Flames took five penalties in less than five minutes, and the Sabres’ money men made them pay with a 3-for-6 night on the power play.
“We don’t get that many too often, so it was nice to get some momentum with the five-on-three and carry that into the rest of the power plays,” Moulson said. “The fans probably enjoyed it, so it’s a good way to get a win.”
The fans did indeed enjoy it. The dancing along with the goal song was a long time coming. Buffalo had four regulation goals during the previous four home games, so equaling that was a treat.
“To get that crowd into it was huge for us,” Reinhart said.
The locals get another chance to be festive on the night before Thanksgiving. Buffalo will be looking for its third straight win at home in an attempt to move its 7-8-4 record back to .500.
Taylor Fedun, meanwhile, will be looking to extend his celebrations. While others have struggled to get points, he’s done nothing but pile them up. The defenseman has played in three games for Buffalo, and he’s reached the score sheet in all of them. He had two assists against the Flames to bring his total to four.
“If anything, it’s a nice positive reinforcement for what I consider the right way of playing the game,” Fedun said. “I’m trying to keep things fairly simple and move pucks to our forwards, and I’ve been having success with that.
“I’m sure you see a lot more smiles on people’s faces when the puck’s going in the net.”