When the Buffalo Sabres completed their morning skate Thursday, Jason Pominville spoke passionately about the city's fans. They have filled KeyBank Center for eight consecutive non-playoff seasons and endured the Sabres' historic collapse over the past four months.
No matter what unfolded over the season's final six games, Pominville hoped he and his teammates could repay the fan base for all they endured. That almost became a reality Thursday night when the Sabres twice rallied from two-goal deficits to take the game into overtime, only to lose, 5-4, on Tyler Bertuzzi's goal with 2:42 remaining.
The Sabres (31-36-10) have gone 3-15-3 over their last 21 games, including 2-10-2 in March, and are only four points ahead of the Red Wings (29-38-10) in the Eastern Conference standings. Buffalo has the league's fewest points (36) since it sat atop the NHL standings Nov. 28.
Dylan Larkin scored the go-ahead goal with 13:16 remaining in the third period and added another less than seven minutes later to become the first Red Wings player since 2008-09 to have 30 goals in a season. Detroit also received a goal from Filip Hronek to take a 2-0 lead.
Kyle Okposo, Marco Scandella, Casey Mittelstadt and Jack Eichel scored, the latter two coming 41 seconds apart in the third period. Linus Ullmark made 29 saves.
Shorthanded problem: The Sabres were out-shooting the Red Wings, 11-1, before Johan Larsson was penalized for slashing with 12:59 remaining in the first period. They proceeded to take two more penalties over the final 10 minutes, and Detroit capitalized at 12:01 when Tyler Bertuzzi redirected Anthony Mantha's pass into the back of the net.
The Red Wings out-shot the Sabres, 16-4, from the time Larsson was penalized to the first intermission. Buffalo has allowed at least one-power play goal in each of its last four games. That spoiled an otherwise strong period by Ullmark, who stopped Luke Glendening's breakaway with a glove save.
Familiar sight: The Red Wings took a 2-0 lead only one minute into the second period, when Anthony Mantha passed to Hronek, who one-timed a shot into the open net. The Sabres entered Thursday with a negative-28 goal differential in the second period this season.
Drought ends: The Sabres' power-play drought ended at 6:12 into the second period, when Okposo scored with a wrist shot from the right circle to cut their deficit to one goal. Okposo had only one goal over his previous 18 games and has 12 this season.
Fine finish: Scandella tied the score, 2-2, when he collected a pass from Zemgus Girgensons and beat Jimmy Howard with a low shot at 17:16 into the second period. The Sabres out-shot the Red Wings, 11-5, during the second period and held a 10-2 advantage when Scandella scored.
500: Olofsson, a 23-year-old former seventh-round draft pick, became the 500th player to ever appear in a game for the Sabres. He had team-high four shots on goal in the first period, including one from the slot 30 seconds into the game.
Matchup: This was the third of four meetings between the two teams this season, and the Sabres won the previous game, 3-1, on Feb 9. They also defeated the Red Wings, 3-2, in a shootout in the ninth game of the 10-game winning streak.
Lineup: Defensemen Zach Bogosian (lower body), Matt Hunwick (upper body), Jake McCabe (upper body) and Rasmus Ristolainen (illness) were unavailable. Defenseman Matt Tennyson, who was recalled from Rochester following the morning skate, did not dress for warmups and joined Scott Wilson as a healthy scratch. Forward Evan Rodrigues (upper body) is day to day with an upper-body injury.
Next: The Sabres are scheduled to practice Friday in preparation for Saturday's road game against the New York Islanders.