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Sabres can’t escape double trouble in shootout loss to Blackhawks

Josh Gorges was already bummed that he was about to live a famous scene from “Slap Shot.”

“You go to the box, you know, two minutes by yourself, and you feel shame,” goaltender Denis Lemieux says in the movie.

Then, all of a sudden, Gorges wasn’t by himself. Rasmus Ristolainen sat down next him in the First Niagara Center sin bin.

“When he came in the box, I said, ‘What are you doing? I got the penalty,’ ” Gorges said Saturday. “He said, ‘No, I got one, too.’ I had no idea.”

Everyone had an idea what it meant, though. The Sabres’ 2-1 lead with just 2:33 to go was about to disappear. Indeed, Chicago’s Patrick Kane scored with one second left in what became a six-on-three, then added the only goal of the shootout to send Buffalo to a painful 3-2 loss.

“I’m not going to lie, it hurts,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.

The Sabres played nearly mistake-free for 57 minutes against the defending Stanley Cup winners. They didn’t take a penalty. They kept Jonathan Toews, Artemi Panarin, Duncan Keith, Artem Anisimov and Brent Seabrook off the score sheet. The only noise accompanying Kane was booing from folks in his hometown who’ve seen too many transgressions, alleged and otherwise.

It all disintegrated when the officials called just their second and third penalties of the game. Gorges held puck-carrying Kane behind the net, and Ristolainen high-sticked Panarin. The call against Ristolainen ended a streak of 44 games without a penalty for the defenseman.

“I let my team get in that position and I feel bad because we should have won this game,” Gorges said. “We deserved better, and it’s frustrating.”

Bylsma was frustrated by the timing of dual calls. He was also anxious because Chicago has a history of two-man advantages. When the Blackhawks scored, they tied Florida for most five-on-three goals in the NHL with four.

“We were in a real tough spot,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “We got a fortunate break with the five-on-three and took almost the whole two minutes to put it in, but it was a great finish to that play.”

The Sabres’ penalty killers nearly delivered the victory:

• The Sabres repeatedly broke up plays and held Chicago to just one shot before the goal.

“The first half our guys did a nice job of weathering the storm,” defenseman Cody Franson said. “They were moving around pretty good.”

Buffalo was moving so well that it prompted Quenneville to pull goalie Corey Crawford to create a six-on-three.

“I guess it is a risk, yeah, but you’re down a goal,” the coach said. “Not a lot was happening at that time for the first minute.”

• A long clear by Ryan O’Reilly, who gave Buffalo its 2-1 lead with 3:20 left, bounced just wide of the net with 1:33 to go.

“From my angle anyways, it looked pretty good all the way down the ice,” Bylsma said.

But with just one second left in the penalties and 33.5 seconds left in the game, Panarin found a wide-open Kane at the side of the Buffalo net.

“One second,” center Tyler Ennis said in disbelief. “It’s funny how luck goes sometimes. One second and they score.

“That’s what good teams, great teams do. They find a way to win. We’re close. We outplayed them a lot.”

Though the result stung, the Sabres, who don’t play again until visiting Boston on Saturday, headed into their weeklong Christmas break with positives. Buffalo is 3-1-1 in its last five and has allowed just seven goals, including the shootout tally.

“That’s a very good team over there, and we went stride for stride with them,” Gorges said.

Said Franson: “There’s no quit in our game. That’s a very high-end team over there, and we gave them a good run.”


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