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Quick Hits: Sabres 3, Sharks 1

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- It's one of the great mysteries in the NHL: How can the Buffalo Sabres dominate the San Jose Sharks year after year even as the teams' fortunes are so dramatically different?

The puck bounced Buffalo's way again Friday night as Zach Bogosian's shot from the right point deflected off the foot of San Jose forward Tomas Hertl and found the net with 7:22 to play, snapping a tie as the Sabres went on to a 3-1 win over the Sharks.

A sellout crowd of 17,562 in SAP Center at San Jose watched Buffalo win its fifth straight game in the building dating to 2010. The Sabres are 9-0-1 against the Sharks in their last 10 meetings; Buffalo had won eight straight until San Jose's 2-1 overtime win Nov. 12 in First Niagara Center.

"I don't know if it's something in the water here but there's been quite a bit of success by the Sabres in this building," said coach Dan Bylsma, who said he became aware of the Sabres' hex over San Jose watching Buffalo's two wins in the series on television last year. "We didn't talk about it before the game, didn't want to jinx it. ... I don't know how to explain it at all. For us this year, we get a win and overtime loss against a pretty good team."

Bogosian scored twice in Sunday's 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh and has three of his four goals on the season in the last three games. He had just one in his first 42 games. Bogosian then assisted on Evander Kane's empty-net goal with 1:17 left.

The Sharks entered the game 14-3-4 since Jan. 7, with the most points in the NHL in that span and coming off a 3-1-1 road trip. They scored on their first shot of the game and didn't beat Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson again as Johnson made 24 saves in what could be his final game with Buffalo.

An early pickle: Marc-Eduoard Vlasic's wrist shot at 1:32 of the first that may have been partially screened as it got to Johnson. Matt Nieto set the play up with a great feed after outworking Johan Larsson and Josh Gorges for the puck.

The early jump: The quick opening goal was a bad omen for the Sabres as the Sharks were 25-2-2 when scoring first but Buffalo defied that stat. The .897 winning percentage was second in the NHL to Washington's 28-1 record in such spots (.949).

Quick on the draw: After the morning skate, Jack Eichel talked about the learning experience he endured Wednesday in Anaheim, when he was shadowed by Ryan Kesler and went 3-16 on faceoffs. Eichel showed big improvement in this game as he went 9-10, including a 4-0 first period.

Finally lighting the lamp: It took the Sabres nearly five periods on this road trip before they scored a goal, with the icebreaker finally coming at 13:38 of the second period as Larsson dived with his right arm outstretched and jabbed a dribbling puck over the goal line to tie the game. Brian Gionta took the orginal shot and it leaked through Martin Jones, allowing Larsson to put a tap-in for the third goal of the season.

No flags: It was the second time this season the Sabres played a game with no penalties on either side, the first being their Nov. 1 win against the New York Islanders in Brooklyn. Incredibly, it was the first time in the Sharks' 25-year history they played a penalty-free affair.

Line shuffles: Bylsma switched wingers on the team's top two lines midway through the second period, flip-flopping Evander Kane and Girgensons. Kane, who had opened with Sam Reinhart and Justin Bailey, moved alongside Eichel and Jamie McGinn. Girgensons was playing with Eichel and McGinn and moved to Reinhart and Bailey.

Up Next: The trip wraps up Saturday night in Los Angeles with a game against the Kings. It's an 11 p.m. start Eastern time on MSG (8 p.m. in LA), ostensibly because NBC has an exclusive national window from 8-11 due to the telecast of the Detroit-Colorado game outdoors at Denver's Coors Field. There is no NBA game or other event at Staples earlier in the day that necessitated the late start for the arena change crew could prepare for hockey.

The Sabres will fly home Sunday and the next game in First Niagara Center is Tuesday against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.

email: mharrington@buffnews.com

 

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