PITTSBURGH – It was end-your-drought night for Sabres players. As a team, however, one skid remains.
Despite a long list of players reaching the score sheet in categories they hadn't found in a long time, Buffalo still has an extended slump against the Penguins. Buffalo dropped a 5-4 shootout decision and is winless in nine straight versus Pittsburgh.
It was game of wild swings. The Sabres took a 3-0 lead after one period but skated into the third in a 4-3 hole.
“We got a three-goal lead and then really got overwhelmed in the second period,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “I liked that our team came back in the third period. We regrouped.”
Kris Letang and Phil Kessel scored in the shootout to give Pittsburgh the win after Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel were denied.
Rare extra time: The Sabres and Penguins skated past regulation for the first time in 23 meetings. They hadn't gone into overtime since a 2-1 shootout victory by Pittsburgh on Dec. 19, 2009.
Johnson busy: Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson faced 46 shots, including 43 in regulation. Penguins goalie Matt Murray, making his just eighth NHL appearance, faced 30 shots. Murray stopped Eichel on a breakaway with 28.1 seconds left in overtime. After the two breakaway misses, Eichel sat dejectedly at his locker for a long time following the game.
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Power play strikes: The Sabres’ power play, which had been blanked in eight of the previous 10 games, gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead with 9:26 gone. Moulson ended an 18-game goal drought by backhanding home Johan Larsson’s rebound. It was just the third goal since Halloween for Moulson, who has six for the season.
Larsson’s assist was his first in 31 games. Defenseman Casey Nelson also earned an assist, giving him a helper in all three of his NHL games. Nelson is the first Sabres player to do that since Calle Johansson in 1987-88.
Penalty killers strike: The Sabres’ short-handed unit made it 2-0 with 5:55 left in the first. David Legwand, who has a habit of creating short-handed chances, slipped a shot through Murray’s pads that trickled to the goal line. Pittsburgh defenseman Trevor Daley swiped it away but hit teammate Phil Kessel. The carom went to Ryan O’Reilly, who ended a 24-game scoring drought.
O’Reilly’s 18th goal of the season was the 300th point of his career.
Four-on-four unit strikes: After a cross-checking battle between Rasmus Ristolainen and Sidney Crosby resulted in penalties to Ristolainen and Chris Kunitz (who joined the fray in Crosby’s defense), Buffalo scored during the resulting four-on-four. Jack Eichel won a faceoff in the Penguins’ zone to Zach Bogosian, who quickly fed O’Reilly. The alternate captain spotted Jake McCabe pinching from the point, and the defenseman put Murray to the ice with a deke.
McCabe’s goal was his first in 42 games. The Sabres held a 3-0 lead after one period despite getting outshot, 18-9.
Second-period dominance: The noise level in Consol Energy Center was as loud as any building the Sabres have played in this season at the end of a four-goal second period by the home team. Pittsburgh scored with 1:28 gone to get the comeback started and found the net with 48.7 seconds left to take a 4-3 lead. The Penguins outshot Buffalo, 14-4, during the second to build a 32-13 lead in the game.
Short-circuited: Despite being dominated for most of the second, the Sabres had a chance to end on a high note. Their power-play unit came on the ice with 2:03 left and hoped to extend the lead to 4-2. Instead, the Penguins scored two short-handed goals in 24 seconds to go in front.
Pittsburgh tied the game when Kris Letang set up Tom Kuhnhackl and Matt Cullen for a two-on-one. Kuhnhackly finished the play with 1:13 left. As the goal was being announced, the Pens buried another one. Johnson stopped the puck behind the net, and Carl Hagelin sped in to steal it. He found Nick Bonino alone in front to get the 18,513 fans screaming for their first lead of the night.
Power play gets one back: The Sabres tied the game, 4-4, with 2:13 gone in the third period. Nelson fed Larsson in the left circle, and the center put a pass onto the tape of streaking Zach Bogosian for the defenseman’s seventh goal of the season.
“I liked the response of our team on the power play,” Bylsma said. “We gave up the two short-handed goals. We got the opportunity in the third. We needed to come up big with a goal, and I liked the response of our guys stepping over the boards and getting the goal."
Crosby again: Crosby picked up an assist on the Penguins’ second goal, giving him at least a point in 28 of 31 games against the Sabres. He has 14 goals, 35 assists and 49 points against Buffalo.
Fasching finds the box: Sabres rookie Hudson Fasching took his first NHL penalty with 10:01 gone. He took his second hooking penalty with 5:46 left in the second period.
Kane sits: As expected, Sabres left wing Evander Kane missed the game with an upper-body injury suffered Monday night in Detroit. Cal O’Reilly dressed in place of Kane.
“Not much to tell you more than it is day-to-day,” Bylsma said. “Once we get back to Buffalo, we’ll have a better idea of what he may be dealing with.”
The coach had no updates on Tyler Ennis (concussion) or Robin Lehner (ankle).
Next: After back-to-back games, the Sabres will take Wednesday off. They host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday in First Niagara Center in the penultimate home game of the season.