For the first time this season, Johan Larsson celebrated a goal. He did so with a huge smile, but Sabres coach Dan Bylsma wasn’t sure what other emotions were bubbling underneath.
“I couldn’t quite get his body language after he scored, whether he was happy, relieved, matter of fact,” Bylsma said Tuesday. “I know he’s been pressing for a while now not having scored. To get that one and to get it at that point in time is certainly a big sigh of relief is what we saw of him.”
Larsson scored the game-winning goal with 3:13 to play Monday night in Detroit, giving the Sabres a 2-1 comeback victory. Larsson followed a late goal from Ryan O’Reilly, giving the Sabres their first win in regulation when trailing in the final five minutes since April 2, 2003.
“When you get the first one it’s always nice,” Larsson said after an optional morning skate before Tuesday’s visit by New Jersey. “It’s been tough, absolutely. You always want to score and have points, but I’ve felt good lately. I kind of have that good feeling now.”
Larsson improved his stats to one goal and four points in 28 games. He recently moved to center and is playing in the middle of Zemgus Girgensons and Brian Gionta.
“I kind of felt good about my game here," Larsson said. "It just showed up on my stick. Obviously, I’ve got a goal and now we can have a good feeling about yourself going into tonight.”
Bylsma, who earlier made a plea for Larsson to play with more passion, wants the forward to continue his physicality and develop a shooter’s mentality.
“Lars is probably one of our best shooters in practice,” Bylsma said. “I have been imploring him to use that and shoot in a game.
“I think he missed a lot of those opportunities, missed the net with them, missed the opportunity to take the shot earlier on in the season. He’s shot it more lately.”