ST. LOUIS — The Buffalo Sabres fell behind in the first minute Sunday night and not much happened after that for the first 40 minutes. But the continued strong work of goaltender Robin Lehner and some big offense from Evan Rodrigues got them even.
Rodrigues scored a pair of third-period goals, including the tying tally with 1:27 left and Lehner on the bench, but Vladimir Tarasenko's spectacular goal with 36 seconds left in overtime gave the St. Louis Blues a 3-2 win over Buffalo before 17,310 in Scottrade Center.
Tarasenko swept around Jack Eichel through the right faceoff circle in the Buffalo zone and jammed the puck through Lehner, who was trying to pokecheck the St. Louis star as he approached the goal.
Lehner finished with 42 saves on 45 shots, giving him 90 saves in the last two games. The Sabres, meanwhile, finished the three-game Central Division trip with a record of 1-0-2 after Tuesday's solid 4-2 win in Colorado and Friday's heartbreaking 3-2 overtime loss in Chicago.
St. Louis improved to 21-8-2 with its fourth straight win. At 44 points, the Blues jumped past Los Angeles and moved back into a tie for first place overall in the NHL standings with Tampa Bay.
Singing the Blues vs. St. Louis: The loss was the Sabres' 20th in their last 23 games against St. Louis, including six in a row at Scottrade Center since their last win on Dec. 27, 2009.
Power play produces: The Sabres failed to score on their first three man advantages Sunday, dropping them to 1 for 35 in their last 12 games, and it was a big factor as they fell behind, 2-0, through 40 minutes. But they broke through at 1:42 of the third period as Rodrigues easily slammed home an Evander Kane pass into an empty net with Blues goalie Jake Allen out of position in the crease.
Tying tally: Lehner had scooted to the bench with 1:45 and it didn't take long for Rodrigues to slam home Marco Scandella's shot, which was blocked in the slot and deflected right to the Buffalo center.
E-Rod power: The goals were Rodrigues' first of the season in the NHL and sixth and seventh of his career. He scored five goals in eight games this season in Rochester.
Opening the scoring: St. Louis opened the scoring after just 40 seconds as Brayden Schenn got away from Evander Kane and banged a loose puck into the empty net after a pass to the goalmouth banked off the skate of Scandella. It was Schenn's 16th of the season, tied with Schwartz for the team high.
He called bank: The Blues made it 2-0 at 16:17 of the second as Paul Stastny snuck the puck through Lehner from close range after it bank off the back boards as Vladimir Tarasenko's shot went wide.
From the blueline: A major talking point of the Buffalo season has been its lack of scoring by defenseman. Jake McCabe's goal Tuesday at Colorado is the only one by Sabres blueliners, the lowest total in the NHL. The leader is St. Louis with 23, paced by Alex Pietrangelo's seven and six from Joel Edmundson.
"For a while there, it seemed like we were scoring every game at the start of the season," St. Louis veteran Jay Bouwmeester said before the game. "When you can get scoring from the back end, it gives you a boost. It's almost like getting a goal from your third or fourth lines."
Odd whistle: A new entry for worst call of the second came in the second period, when Schenn got a double minor for roughing and Buffalo's Justin Falk got two minutes for roughing. After a hit on Alex Steen, Schenn approached Falk and the Buffalo defenseman pounced with two quick punches. Schenn never threw one but got an extra penalty, to the dismay of St. Louis coach Mike Yeo.
Milestone watch: Buffalo center Ryan O'Reilly played his 600th career game, the last 173 of which have come with the Sabres after he was acquired from Colorado in 2015. O'Reilly does not have a goal in his last 11 games.
Up next: The Sabres flew home right after the game but will get no rest after a week on the road. They're scheduled to practice Monday morning in KeyBank Center, where they will meet the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night. Buffalo is 3-9-1 at home, tied for both the fewest home wins and most regulation home losses in the league.
The Sens arrived in Buffalo on Sunday and will be playing the last game of a seven-game road trip that opened Nov. 29 in Montreal. Ottawa is 1-4-1 on the trip and has lost four straight. The Sens have been outscored, 17-3, in that span and shut out in three of the four games, including Saturday's 5-0 loss at San Jose.