The Sabres didn't catch a break Friday. They didn't really deserve one.
Vancouver skated into KeyBank Center for its second game in two nights, and it thoroughly outplayed the rested Sabres to pick up a 4-2 victory. Buffalo fell to 1-5-2 in its forgettable start to the season.
The Canucks outshot the Sabres, 41-22, and had a 36-10 lead late in the second period.
As bad as the Sabres played, there were within a goal throughout the third period until Derek Dorsett scored into an empty net with 21.7 seconds left.
Disputed goal: The Canucks took a 3-2 lead with 11:50 left in the second period – or did they? The NHL said yes, and that was all that mattered.
Vancouver's Jake Virtanen corralled a pass out of the air near the Sabres' blue line. Still frames show that both of his feet were across the line while the puck was still on the blue paint and not on his stick. Quick puck movement allowed Daniel Sedin to score from close range.
The Sabres' Phil Housley issued a coach's challenge for offside. After a long, long review, the officials counted the goal. It was much to Housley's dismay.
The NHL Situation Room sent the following explanation: "After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Linesman, NHL Hockey Operations staff confirmed that Vancouver's Jake Virtanen had possession and control of the puck as he entered the attacking zone prior to the goal. According to Rule 83.1, 'a player actually controlling the puck who shall cross the line ahead of the puck shall not be considered "off-side," provided he had possession and control of the puck prior to his skates crossing the blue line.'"
Home sweet home: The fourth career goal for Williamsville native Justin Bailey was his first at home, and the Sabres winger celebrated accordingly with just one minute gone. He flexed his arms then animatedly yelled as his teammates approached for a congratulatory hug.
Center Ryan O'Reilly set up the goal, chasing down a dump-in and putting a no-look backhand onto the stick of Bailey at the top of the crease. The winger sent his backhand past goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
Rally: The Canucks certainly didn't sulk after allowing the early goal. They rolled up shot leads of 12-1, 16-2 and 17-3 while tying the game with 8:04 left in the opening period. Markus Granlund collected a rebound in front of the net and banked his shot home off the post.
Turning it around: Teams rarely head into intermission with applause after getting outshot, 17-5, but Jack Eichel made the first period worth it. Starting from his own faceoff circle, the center streaked up the right boards, stickhandled between the legs of defenseman Ben Hutton in the Canucks' zone and beat Markstrom between the pads.
— NHL (@NHL) October 21, 2017
The goal with 2:40 left woke up the crowd of 17,050 and sent the Sabres into the break with a 2-1 lead.
One-sided second: There was no applause from the locals after 40 minutes. The Sabres were in a 3-2 hole and getting outshot, 37-13. Vancouver had a 20-8 advantage in the second.
Again? Yes, again: The Sabres gave up their sixth short-handed goal in just eight games, allowing the Canucks to tie it, 2-2. It was another odd-man rush. Chad Johnson stopped the shot by Brandon Sutter, but Derek Dorsett came from behind defenseman Matt Tennyson to easily deposit the rebound with 5:52 gone in the second.
The record for most short-handed goals allowed in a single season is 22, done by the Minnesota North Stars ('91-92), Pittsburgh Penguins ('84-85) and Colorado Avalanche ('95-96). The Sabres are on pace to give up 62.
Disappearing: Sabres defenseman Nathan Beaulieu did not come out for the third period. Kyle Okposo sat on the bench for the second half of the second period and first half of the third.
Lineup changes: With a long list of injuries, the Sabres mixed things up on forward and defense.
Victor Antipin returned to the blue line after being a healthy scratch for four straight. He dressed in place of Josh Gorges, who is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. The Sabres recalled defenseman Taylor Fedun from Rochester to serve as an extra.
Forward Zemgus Girgensons sat with a lower-body injury, so Seth Griffith returned after being scratched in the previous two. Buffalo placed center Jacob Josefson (foot) on injured reserve to open a spot for Fedun.
Rochester return: Forward Sean Malone, who suffered an injury prior to the Sabres Prospects Challenge in early September, made his season debut Friday night for the Rochester Americans.
Honoring the fallen: The Sabres held a moment of silence before the game for Buffalo Police Officer Craig Lehner, who died in the Niagara River during an underwater exercise. The ice was bathed in blue light during the silence.
Before the teams took the ice, the Sabres played their normal highlight package set to the song "Courage" by the Tragically Hip. When it ended, the words "Thank You Gord" popped onto the scoreboard and ribbon board in honor of Hip singer Gord Downie, who died this week following a fight with brain cancer.
Next: The Sabres boarded their charter following the game and flew to Boston. They'll face the Bruins at 7 p.m. Saturday in TD Garden. Boston is 3-3 after a 6-3 shellacking of Vancouver on Thursday night.