Just like the previous two games, the Sabres' third-period lead was gone. This time, they got it back.
With a game Buffalo dominated on the verge of becoming a loss, Ryan O'Reilly and Evander Kane connected. O'Reilly put a no-look, behind-the-back pass onto the stick of Kane. One of the NHL's hottest scorers didn't miss, firing his shot past goaltender Mike Smith with 5:36 to go.
Kane's team-high 23rd goal gave Buffalo a 4-3 lead. Empty-netters by Marcus Foligno and Sam Reinhart gave the Sabres a 6-3 victory as they ended a four-game winless skid.
Buffalo held two-goal leads Sunday in Arizona and Tuesday against Nashville before losing. The Sabres had leads of 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3 against the Coyotes.
Okposo leaves: Sabres right wing Kyle Okposo left the game with an upper-body injury. Okposo got hit into the boards midway through the second period. He was clearly in pain on the bench while athletic trainer Rich Stinziano talked with him.
Okposo finished the second but he did not come out for the third.
He doesn’t shoot, they score: A rapid turn of events resulted in a 1-0 lead for the Coyotes with 7:54 gone. Max Domi coughed up the puck to a wide-open Kyle Okposo in the slot. The winger waited and tried to squeeze a pass to Ryan O’Reilly, which missed.
As the fans groaned, the Coyotes took off on a two-on-one. Teemu Pulkkinen fed Domi, who passed right back for a Pulkkinen tap-in.
No work shortage: O’Reilly, who had been quiet as of late, reappeared with a vengeance to help the Sabres tie it. With Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons in the penalty box, O’Reilly won a puck battle against two Coyotes and slipped between them. He fed Marcus Foligno for a one-timer, and the left winger connected for his career-high 11th goal with 8:06 to go in the first. He later extended his high with his 12th.
It was just the second short-handed goal of the season for Buffalo, moving them out of a tie for last with Chicago and St. Louis.
One time: The Sabres entered the second period with carryover power-play time. They needed 57 seconds to take a 2-1 lead. Jack Eichel put a cross-ice pass into O’Reilly’s wheelhouse, and the center’s one-timer became his 14th goal.
O'Reilly entered the game with 12 goals, 26 points and a plus-13 rating in 22 victories, one goal, nine points and a plus-1 in 10 shootout losses, and no goals, four points and a minus-11 in 21 losses.
Give and take: After scoring their short-handed goal, the Sabres gave up one. They turned the puck over at the blue line, and Tobias Rieder skated past O’Reilly for a breakaway. Rieder easily went around goaltender Robin Lehner to make it 2-2 with 2:05 gone in the second.
More power: The Sabres’ power play scored its second of the night with 8:52 left in the second, putting Buffalo back in front. Sam Reinhart quickly swept a rebound onto the stick of Eichel, and the center pointed at his roommate to celebrate his 15th goal of the season.
Domination: Though they had just a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes, the Sabres had a 52-17 lead in shot attempts, a 31-10 lead in shots and an 11:51-4:25 edge in zone time.
But ...: The Coyotes hung around, and they tied it with 11:40 left. Defenseman Alex Goligoski fired through a screen set by former Sabres forward Jamie McGinn.
Rough ride: Lehner, who missed Sunday’s game after taking a beating Saturday, was slow to get up after another jostling with 11 minutes gone. The Coyotes’ Peter Holland streaked around Cody Franson to get a clear path to the net. Josh Gorges had no choice but to level the center, who crashed into Lehner. The goalie stayed in.
Counting the house: The Sabres announced 18,116 tickets sold, but actual attendance rivaled the lowest of the season. There were empty seats in every section for the weeknight game between two of the NHL’s worst teams.
Next: The Sabres return to the ice with back-to-back games this weekend. They host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. They’ll visit Pittsburgh on Sunday.