ANAHEIM -- Rasmus Ristolainen's power-play goal at 3:57 of the third period broke a tie and sent the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks Sunday night before a sellout crowd of 17,174 in Honda Center.
The Sabres swept the two games in Southern California for the first time since 2003 and did it in back-to-back style after Saturday's 5-1 blowout of the Los Angeles Kings. Buffalo also finished 3-2 on its Western road trip and improved to 5-4 on the season.
Ristolainen's goal came on a sizzling slapshot that rocketed home off the goalpost over the glove of Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller, the longtime Buffalo netminder. Sam Reinhart provided the screen on Buffalo's second power-play goal of the game.
The Sabres trailed, 2-0, late in the second period but probably deserved this win. They outshot Anaheim, 45-28, and dominated in the Anaheim zone for long stretches of play. Only strong work by Miller kept the Ducks afloat.
Buffalo also survived after two spectacular saves by Carter Hutton in the final 40 seconds, one where the puck was swept away by Johan Larsson just before it crossed the goal line. Patrik Berglund's empty-net goal with 17 seconds left sealed the win.
Opening salvo: Anaheim got the game's initial goal at 16:42 of the first period as Sam Steel, the Ducks' first-round pick in 2016, got his first NHL goal with a deflection of Brandon Montour's shot from the right point. The puck skittered off the goalpost and in past Hutton.
Pressure points: The Sabres had plenty of pressure in the second period but couldn't dent Miller. The best chances saw Larsson's wraparound slide through the crease with Miller caught on the opposite side and Vladimir Sobotka's rebound on a 2-on-1 go high and wide.
Ugly response: The Sabres had a pair of shifts where they hemmed in the Ducks in the second period and couldn't score. After one such foray, Anaheim took a 2-0 lead as Kiefer Sherwood beat Hutton on what should have been a stoppable shot from the right circle at 13:32.
Power play strikes: The Sabres cut the deficit in half on Kyle Okposo's power-play goal at 16:03, a slick three-way passing play that started with Evan Rodrigues out top and moved down low to Sam Reinhart, who passed across the crease to Okposo at Miller's left.
Okposo from Reino & E-Rod 🚨 pic.twitter.com/eT27F5O21o
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) October 22, 2018
Super Skins: Winger Jeff Skinner, who had a hat trick Saturday in Los Angeles, was super dangerous in this game as well. Skinner had four shots on goal in the first period and all were strong scoring chances that Miller stopped.
But Skinner broke through to tie the game at 17:31 of the second, beating Miller on a breakaway after a neat feed from Jason Pominville on a 2-on-1 break. The play started with a nifty, no-look backhand pass from Jack Eichel to Pominville through the neutral zone.
Like I said, this was ridiculous. https://t.co/tFkV96RDHD
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) October 22, 2018
End of a trend: Skinner's goal marked the first time in the Sabres' nine games either side came back to pull even. In the previous eight Buffalo games, the team that scored first never gave up the lead and held on to win.
Big opening numbers: The Sabres outshot the Ducks in the first period, 14-8, as Skinner and Eichel had half the shots. Buffalo nearly doubled the Ducks in attempts at 23-12. It was a continuation of the Ducks' seasonlong trend. Anaheim entered the contest last in the NHL in per-game shots for (23.0), shots against (37.8) and shot differential (-14.8).
Not many friends left: Only four Sabres remain who played with Miller during his time in Buffalo from 2002-2014. Jason Pominville, of course, was a longtime teammate before he was traded in 2013. Ristolainen, Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons were all rookies in 2013-14, Miller's last season with the Sabres before he was sent to St. Louis at the trade deadline.
What's Next: The Sabres flew home immediately after the game and were slated to arrive in the wee hours of the morning. They will take Monday off and return to practice in Key Bank Center on Tuesday morning. The next game is in the arena Thursday night against Montreal, which is off to a surprising 4-1-2 start. The other game this week is Saturday in Columbus.