As the media scrum enclosed Peter DeBoer to ask if the San Jose Sharks coach could make sense of his team losing what looked like another win signed, sealed and delivered, he found a type of camaraderie with the Atlanta Falcons' head coach.
"I felt like Dan Quinn in the Super Bowl Sunday," DeBoer said. "It was one of those games. Thank God it wasn’t the finals, it was a game in the middle of February. We found a way to get a point. But we couldn’t have played a better road game for 45-50 minutes. We’ve got to learn a lesson there. We didn’t manage the puck, we took some penalties, we gave up some odd-man attacks, all the things you don’t want to do with the lead and it burned us."
While the Falcons saw their 25-point lead evaporate into an overtime loss to the New England Patriots, the Sharks saw a 4-1 third-period lead turn into a 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres in KeyBank Center Tuesday night.
The damage started with a penalty at the 8:21 mark. During the Sabres' power play, Sharks goalie Martin Jones lost his stick. It was sitting out beyond the faceoff circle. When Melker Karlsson got the opportunity to pick it up he did, and tossed it back to Jones. Only problem is throwing a stick is a minor penalty. The Sabres scored on the delayed call and while they didn't score on the ensuing power play, did seize all the momentum.
"I picked up stick and threw it to goalie," Karlsson said. "I didn’t know the rule so it was my mistake. Just my mistake.
"I think they got momentum going. They got the goals when they needed it. It’s tough today. I think we had the game exactly where we wanted and it’s just heartbreak."
"It’s just one of those games that for them to come back everything worked out just perfect," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. "Doesn’t matter how perfect it works, though, you can’t give up that kind of lead. … It’s hockey. It’s a weird game at times. It’s a game we felt we should never lose being up," three goals "so we’re pretty disappointed that way. You see the guys come out fresh, play a hard game, play a good game, and just got to find a way to win at the end. It’s just as simple as that."
The loss ended a four-game road winning streak for the Sharks, the defending Western Conference Champion.
And it extended the franchise woes in Buffalo.
The Sharks are now 2-17 all-time against the Sabres in Buffalo, winning last season in overtime.
"It’s one of the better games we played here lately," Pavelski said. "Again, we don’t get the result we want. We’ve got to move on with this road trip and move on to the next game."
As reporters started to gather around the lockers on Tuesday morning, Joe Thornton asked if everyone wanted to talk to Mr. 500.
It was just a week ago when Patrick Marleau scored his 500th career goal - all as a member of the San Jose Sharks.
"Do they give you a jacket for that?" Thornton asked Marleau. "That's a special club."
No jacket. But it's a pretty impressive accomplishment. Marleau is the 45th player in NHL history to score 500 goals, the fifth active NHL player to reach that mark, and just the 17th to reach the milestone with one franchise.
"Incredible. Just 500 goals, nobody gets that anymore," Thornton scored. "What an accomplishment. You might not see it ever again with one team. It’s very rare these days."
Marleau was understated about the accomplishment.
"It’s fun. We’re on a roll right now which makes it that much more special," Marleau said. "You don’t get there without tons of great teammates and tons of support at home. It’s a chance to look back and thank all the people that have helped you along the way."
Tuesday's game was the Sabres participation in "You Can Play Night," part of the NHL's initiative "Hockey is for Everyone."
The Sabres donated $5,000 to both The Pride Center of WNY and Gay & Lesbian Youth Services of WNY. Some players used rainbow tape during pregame warmups. Each stick will be auctioned off following the game on sabres.com/auctions running through Sunday, Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. Proceeds will benefit You Can Play.
The 13th annual Buffalo Sabres Corporate Hockey Challenge Presented by Pure Hockey will be March 23 in KeyBank Center. The 3-on-3 tournament has teams of seven players with one Sabres Alumni. Each player receivers a gift and a post-tournament happy hour and dinner at (716) Food and Sport. Teams can participate in a live "Alumni Draft" to select the Sabres player to join their team. Alumni attending include Danny Briere, Michael Peca, J.P. Dumont, John Scott, Rob Ray, Brad May, Jason Woolley, Jordan Leopold, Matt Ellis and Kevyn Adams.
The tournament raises money for the Buffalo Sabres Foundation. The cost is $3,500 per team. For more information contact Teresa Belbas at (716) 855-4588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.