DETROIT – Evander Kane understands why teams are scratching their trade assets, but hockey is fun. He wants to play.
He would have been really bummed if he wasn't part of Thursday's overtime thriller.
After the Buffalo Sabres allowed the tying goal with 1:25 left in regulation, defenseman Marco Scandella turned the tables on the Detroit Red Wings. He scored with 0.2 seconds to play in overtime, delivering a 3-2 victory during an exhilarating three-on-three session.
"Wow," Sabres coach Phil Housley said in Little Caesars Arena. "That overtime was pretty interesting, to say the least."
The players poured off the bench when Scandella found the net, then celebrated on their way to the dressing room when a replay showed the puck crossing the goal line just before the clock struck zero.
"I was wondering if it was good," Scandella said. "I kind of saw through my peripherals the light going on after, but I wasn't sure.
"It was a fun game for us. It's a building block for our team, and it's a great feeling."
The Sabres took their 2-1 lead on Kane's 20th goal of the season. If he played elsewhere, the soon-to-be-traded winger might not have reached the milestone.
The New York Rangers scratched forwards Rick Nash and Michael Grabner on Thursday in anticipation of deals. They didn't want to risk their assets getting injured. It paid off in Grabner's case as he was dealt to New Jersey after the game in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick and a prospect.
"I'm a hockey player," Kane said. "I love going out there and competing. When it comes to sitting out, I understand the business side of it, but for me I want to play every time I have an opportunity."
So far, General Manager Jason Botterill hasn't told Housley to sit any of the Sabres' trade candidates. There are two more games before Monday's trade deadline as the Sabres visit Washington on Saturday and host Boston on Sunday.
"In our conversations with Jason, he's going to do what's best for this organization," Housley said. "If we get to that point, he'll let me know. But for right now the thing that we can control is to try and win a hockey game."
Kane helped them win, though it took awhile for his goal. He flew around the back of Detroit's net on the power play midway through the second period, and he jammed the puck home with teammate Jason Pominville standing in the crease.
Detroit coach Jeff Blashill felt Pominville prevented Jimmy Howard from getting to the post before Kane, so he issued a coach's challenge for goaltender interference. After a long look by the officials, it was denied.
"After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the referee confirmed that the position of Buffalo's Pominville did not by itself impact Howard's ability to play his position in the crease and therefore no goaltender interference infractions occurred," the NHL Situation Room said.
Kane is still ticked the NHL erased his late goal in Montreal in November via review, so he knew full well he shouldn't celebrate until he heard the confirmation.
"I was a little nervous how long it was taking to review," he said. "Pommer was there, and I think he was just saying hi. I don't think he touched him.
"Nice call. The right call."
Housley apparently made the right call in using Johan Larsson during overtime. The center continued his regular trek to the penalty box, taking a tripping call with 2:56 left in regulation that allowed Detroit to tie the game. Larsson has seven minor penalties, a major, a match and a two-game suspension in his last nine games, so a brief seat on the bench could have been warranted.
But Larsson skated out with Scandella and Sam Reinhart during overtime, collected a loose puck, drove the net to get the attention of Howard, then dropped a pass to Scandella for the goal.
"It's a fine line between winning and losing," Larsson said. "Obviously, great seeing it go in."