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Make no mistake, goals allow Sabres to overcome miscues

Too many times, a simple mistake has ruined the Sabres’ night. That’s what happens when a team walks a one-goal tightrope. It’s easy to fall off with a thud.

Buffalo made more than one mistake Tuesday. Instead of kicking themselves over another loss, the Sabres talked about the roar of the crowd, the joy of winning and the fun of getting on a roll.

In other words, they learned that scoring goals covers up a lot of mistakes.

“You get the second, third, fourth goal, and you forget about the mistake you make,” coach Dan Bylsma said after a 6-3 victory over Los Angeles. “When you’re getting one or less goals a game, every mistake is magnified. We had a few of those kerfuffles that cause goals in a game against a good team. I think you start to squeeze the stick a little bit and wonder where this was going.

“It’s a credit to the guys that they took charge of the game and took the game over, and erased whatever mistake there was earlier on.”

Ryan O’Reilly, as he needs to do, took charge first. He was beaten by Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar on a goal three minutes into the game. He was on the ice when the Kings went up, 2-0, during the second period.

O’Reilly cut the deficit to 2-1 with a highlight-reel solo effort, circling the Kings’ zone and ringing iron with a top-shelf backhand. It was the first of four straight second-period goals for Buffalo, and it made O'Reilly's slow start a distant memory.

“I was just getting frustrated,” the center said in KeyBank Center. “The first goal was clearly my fault, then being out there again … I’ve got to create offense and not get scored on. I was frustrated and tried to regroup and provide some offense.

“Once we got on a roll, we stayed with it. To see goal after goal, you could just feel the life in the building, and everything just changed. You could tell that we took the game over, and that’s by us being mature, taking advantage of those momentum swings and just finding ways to score goals.”

Scoring goals has, of course, been the Sabres’ biggest problem. They seemed on their way to scoring two or fewer for the 19th time in their 28 games, but suddenly fans were cheering and high-fives were happening. Buffalo scored four goals on five shots in a span of 6:13 to take the lead.

After a couple of miscues allowed the Kings to pull within a goal, the Sabres finished with two more goals in the final 4:18 to close out the victory.

“It was a fun game to be in,” left wing Matt Moulson said. “We just battled and didn’t let those one mistakes deter us from winning. We just said we’ve got to keep going, keep sticking to our game plan.

“It’s fun when you’re scoring and winning. I don’t think there’s anything more fun than winning games. When you get that many goals, it’s a little extra.”

Ten players reached the score sheet, led by Jack Eichel’s two-goal, one-assist night. Kyle Okposo finished with three assists. Moulson and Rasmus Ristolainen had two helpers each.

Those were the plays the Sabres talked about in the dressing room, not the ones that allowed the Kings to score.

"We needed to get angry and take control," Bylsma said. "Our guys earned the victory. We earned it with how hard we played."

Starting Friday, Buffalo is going to play four games in eight days. The players are going to make mistakes. If they keep scoring, that will be OK.

“It’s getting into a rhythm and just feeding off each other,” O’Reilly said. “That’s what good teams do. You’re never going to dominate a game from start to finish. They’re going to have opportunities, and they’re going to score goals. For us not to get affected by it and just keep feeding off each other, that’s being a mature team.”

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