The Sabres' penalty killers came up big. The power play was even better.
Kyle Okposo scored with 26 seconds left in overtime Friday, giving Buffalo a 3-2 victory over Detroit. The win was the Sabres' fourth straight in KeyBank Center.
The Red Wings earned a power play with 3:19 to play in overtime. Thomas Vanek forced the Sabres' Kyle Okposo into a hooking penalty after sustained pressure in the Buffalo zone.
The Sabres killed it, then promptly got one of their own. Frans Nielsen went for hooking with 1:07 to go. Ryan O'Reilly fed Okposo in front, and the right winger reached around goaltender Petr Mrazek for his 14th goal of the season.
Anders Nilsson made 32 saves to improve to 6-1-1 at home.
Brute force: O'Reilly started the Sabres toward their victory, refusing to be denied a goal. He joined defenseman Danny DeKeyser on a race for the puck below the Detroit goal line, and O'Reilly brutally pushed DeKeyser aside.
O'Reilly then circled the net to get the front, where he deposited a backhand with 4:09 to play to make it 2-2.
Early injury: Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe headed to the trainers’ room just 56 seconds into the game with a shoulder injury. Gustav Nyquist tripped McCabe as they chased the puck, and McCabe went hard into the side boards. He left the ice hunched over with his right arm dangling at his side.
McCabe came back for two short shifts midway through the period before leaving again. He did not return for the final two periods.
Buffalo has no extra healthy defensemen, so a recall will be necessary if McCabe misses any games.
Momentum killer: The Sabres opened with a 6-2 shot edge, then Zach Bogosian took a holding penalty with 8:50 gone. Detroit needed only 12 seconds to make it 1-0.
Frans Nielsen turned and fired from the slot, giving the Red Wings just their second power-play goal on the road since Oct. 17. The Sabres, who are last in the NHL in penalty kill, have allowed a power-play goal in nine of the last 13 games.
Leg up: Sam Reinhart tied the game, 1-1, but not before a conference and video review. The Red Wings blocked Jack Eichel’s power-play slap shot, and it caromed to Reinhart in the slot. He kicked the puck toward the net and pushed it home with his stick.
A referee immediately waved off the goal for the kicking motion, but the other officials told him Reinhart got his stick on the puck, too. Video review confirmed Reinhart’s 10th goal of the season with 5:06 gone in the second.
Reinhart has reached the score sheet in six straight home games. He has 14 points in the last 15 games overall. Eichel has 10 points in 12 home games.
Welcome back: Darren Helm played his first game since Nov. 15, and it was a happy return. He pounced on a loose puck with 6:22 to play and ripped it past Nilsson to five the Red Wings a 2-1 lead. Helm had been sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Wall in the first: Mrazek turned aside 13 shots in the opening period, with two of his biggest coming in the final minutes. Cody Franson set up Marcus Foligno for a point-blank rush chance, but Mrazek slid over to get his blocker on the blast with 1:45 to go. Tyler Ennis sent a shot toward the net one minute later, but Mrazek knocked it away like a batter in baseball.
Nilsson back: Nilsson sat out Thursday’s practice because of illness, but he came back to get the start. The Sabres recalled Linus Ullmark with Nilsson out, and they returned the goalie to Rochester following Friday’s morning skate.
Ennis back again: Ennis returned to the Sabres’ lineup after sitting out Tuesday’s loss in Toronto. He played on the top line with center Ryan O’Reilly and right wing Kyle Okposo.
Milestones: Moulson played his 600th NHL game. It was his 247th with Buffalo. Defenseman Justin Falk played his 200th NHL game.
Honor: The Sabres presented Amherst High hockey coach Jim D’Angelo with the J. Michael Duffett Award. It’s been given annually since 1984 to a Western New York coach who exemplifies the knowledge, teaching, love of the game and humanity of Duffett, a member of the Sabres’ hockey department who died of cancer.
Counting the house: The Sabres announced 18,942 tickets sold. Fans in Red Wings jerseys occupied a good portion of the lower bowl.
Next: The Sabres will play their next four games on the road, starting Saturday in Montreal. Buffalo is 2-4-1 this season on the second night of back-to-backs. The Sabres will visit Nashville on Tuesday and Dallas on Thursday before resting for the NHL All-Star break.