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After showing pulse, Sabres know they need to come to life

The Sabres have been here before. It's that point where they look like they maybe, possibly have figured things out.

"There's only so many times, right?" goaltender Robin Lehner acknowledged. "We've got to start recognizing what makes us successful."

The Sabres looked good during Saturday's 5-4 overtime win in Boston. They talked about all the things they did well and vowed to continue them.

It's happened often during the last couple of seasons. Inevitably, those good things quickly disappear and clunkers return.

"This doesn't mean anything if we don't come back with a hard practice Monday and prepare for Tuesday," said center Ryan O'Reilly, who was already looking forward to Detroit's visit after scoring the overtime winner against the Bruins. "We've got to start preparing for the next game. We're still disappointed with our start to the season, and we've got to get better."

It is progress that Buffalo recognizes its disappointing start. The players certainly didn't seem to care during Friday's no-show against Vancouver that dropped them to 1-5-2. But between the final buzzer with the Canucks and puck drop in Boston, they did the old "look in the mirror."

"We definitely had a talk," O'Reilly said. "Everyone kind of had to take a look at each other and think, 'OK, is this who we want to be?'

"We didn't."

They looked like a different team against the Bruins, erasing a 4-1 deficit to earn their second victory.

"I give our guys a lot of credit because they've been through a lot in just a short period of time," coach Phil Housley said. "It's one game. It's something we can build off, but we have to get back to work on Monday. I feel great for the guys in the locker room, and hopefully they'll get some confidence from this."

An angry O'Reilly leads to happy Sabres in overtime victory

There should be confidence in most areas of the dressing room. The Sabres' 42 shots against the Bruins came from 16 players. Only Johan Larsson and Taylor Fedun failed to register one. The defensemen combined for 14 shots as Buffalo was able to set up in the Boston end.

"They were crashing the net," Bruins goaltender Anton Khudobin said. "They were going hard. There were a lot of deflections, a lot of rebounds, a lot of scrums in front of the net.

"That's the dangerous part, not just the shots."

Housley's system promised fast exits and quick rushes, but it was also supposed to allow for extended zone time. The Sabres need to establish that style, and the game in Boston was a start.

"We have skilled players, and when you play a game like that it's going to open up," Lehner said. "We're going to get our chances. We're going to get our rebounds. We've got to play that way all the time.

"We've got to be patient because it's impatience that's killing us. We're trying to force stuff, and it turns into turnovers and Grade A chances against. We've got to learn from it."

The victory was hardly flawless. Lehner needed to make a few breakaway stops as defenders lost track of Boston forwards. The team had trouble handling the Bruins' transition game.

"It wasn't a perfect game by any means, but the staples of the game were there for us," O'Reilly said. "We all kind of realized that.

"We, to a man, have to realize why we had success and why we won."

A few tweaks to the forward lines helped. Justin Bailey's speed complemented the breakaway potential possessed by Eichel and Evander Kane. Benoit Pouliot scored his first goal and Jason Pominville added his fifth while playing with O'Reilly.

There are still contributions to be made. Of the Sabres' 25 goals, 18 have been scored by four players: Kane (six), Pominville (five), Eichel (four) and O'Reilly (three). While Pouliot found the score sheet, Kyle Okposo, Matt Moulson, Seth Griffith and Rasmus Ristolainen are among those looking for their first.

"We can't be inconsistent, especially not coming off the best start to this season," Eichel said. "We already put ourselves behind the eight-ball a little bit. We've got to start rolling some over and competing the way we competed."

The Wraparound: Sabres 5, Bruins 4 (OT)

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