After a tough start, the Buffalo Sabres answered with a strong push. And they secured a badly needed win with a spectacular finish.
Captain Jack Eichel got the job done, connecting on a penalty shot goal at 1:09 of overtime to give the Sabres a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers in front of a sellout crowd of 19,070 Thursday night in KeyBank Center.
Eichel was hooked on a rink-length rush by Edmonton's Oscar Klefbom and then burned goalie Mike Smith with a quick wrist shot inside the goal post for his 26th goal of the season.
It was Eichel's first career penalty shot goal, with his other attempt an overtime miss in Chicago in 2017. It also was his franchise-record seventh overtime winning goal.
Eichel on going wide to set up the winner: "I'm just trying to throw the timing off a little bit and maybe his angle coming a little bit wider. You make a move laterally and he's a little off his angle. Just try to shoot it when you're in tight on a goalie like that and the ice isn't good. Keep it simple."
— Buffalo Hockey moments (@SabresPlays) January 3, 2020
Numbers games: The Sabres snapped their four-game losing streak. They were 0-14-2 when trailing after two periods before rallying to win this game. Buffalo beat Edmonton by 3-2 decisions in extra time in both meetings. The Sabres won the Dec. 8 game in Edmonton on a goal by defenseman Colin Miller.
The Sabres tied the game, 2-2, at 3:53 of the third period as Sam Reinhart collected his 100th NHL goal, deflecting home a wrist shot from the right point by Zach Bogosian.
Olofsson honored but then injured: Sabres winger Victor Olofsson assisted on the Reinhart goal but then left the game for good with an apparent right leg injury on the play. After he passed the puck to Bogosian, Olofsson appeared to get his left skate caught on the ice and that put pressure on the right leg, which buckled as he fell. Unable to put any weight on the leg, teammates helped Olofsson off the ice and he went immediately down the tunnel to the dressing room.
Prior to the game, Olofsson was named the NHL's Rookie of the Month for the second time this season. Olofsson led all rookies in goals (6) and points (14) in December.
The Reinhart goal and the Olofsson injury -- as he goes down with nobody around him. Had to be a rut in the ice. https://t.co/MHFlkO7d7G
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) January 3, 2020
The Olofsson injury report: Coach Ralph Krueger said an update will come Friday. Eichel is holding his breath. "That's not good by any means," Eichel said. "That's tough to see. He's been so good for us all year and we rely on him on so many big situations. Myself and [Sam Reinhart] have really enjoyed playing with him and on the power play he's such a threat. Such a big part of our team."
Oilers strike first: Edmonton opened the scoring at 5:06 of the first period as Riley Sheahan tucked home a rebound and made it 2-0 as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins took a rebound around Linus Ullmark and jammed it home.
Strong start, slow finish: The Oilers had 13 shots on goal in the first 15 1/2 minutes. They had just 15 in the final 45 1/2 minutes. They had a 27-26 advantage for the game.
McDavid/Draisaitl quiet: NHL scoring leader Connor McDavid (22-42-64) did not have a point. Second-line center Leon Draisaitl (23-40-63) only had a secondary assist on the Nugent-Hopkins goal.
Next: The Sabres have a rescheduled 1 p.m. game Saturday here against the Florida Panthers. The game was moved to accommodate fans' TV viewing of the Bills-Texans playoff game.
It will be '90s Day, with alums from the Black and Red era of the 1990s introduced in pregame ceremonies and featured throughout the game.