Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie - USA TODAY Sports

Golden Knights spoil Sabres comeback; win first ever meeting 5-4

The Sabres erased a three-goal deficit in the third period to force overtime

October 17, 2017 - 10:44 pm

Joe DiBiase reporting

After falling behind 4-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights in the third period on Tuesday, the Buffalo Sabres bounced back to tie the game late and force overtime at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. However, it was the expansion franchise grabbing their first ever win against the Sabres, thanks to a game-winning goal from David Perron at the 3:52 mark of overtime.

It has been a struggle to start the season for the Sabres, but came into Tuesday's game off of a 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday to earn their first win of the season. As for Vegas, they have been a great story to start the season, going 4-1 through their first five games.

However, Vegas is without goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who suffered a concussion over the weekend against the Detroit Red Wings. So it was Malcolm Subban who got another start in net after earning his first career win on Sunday against the Boston Bruins. He faced Chad Johnson in net for the Sabres, who earned the win over the Ducks on Sunday.

The Sabres are without center Jacob Josefson, who suffered a lower-body injury on Sunday and is considered day-to-day. Zemgus Girgensons replaces him as the fourth line center, and Kyle Okposo takes his spot in the lineup.

Buffalo got on the board first with a powerplay goal by Ryan O'Reilly. Jason Pominville drew the penalty on Perron, who obstructed Pominville from getting to the puck in the corner. O'Reilly made him pay with a wrist shot from the top of the circle that beat Subban on the blocker side. Matt Moulson supplied the screen in front.

The Golden Knights would get a chance to respond quickly. Just over a minute later, Benoit Pouliot took a penalty, giving Vegas the man advantage. They would put on lots of pressure for almost the entirety of the powerplay, but couldn't beat Johnson. Girgensons blocked a shot with his lower leg, he had difficulty getting to his feet and limped to the bench.

Immediately afterwards, the Sabres created pressure with a speedy line of Jack Eichel, Justin Bailey, and Pouliot. Eichel would draw a holding penalty on Vegas center Cody Eakin. The Sabres would get some good chances from their second unit, but were not able to capitalize.

The Golden Knights would tie the game with just over five minutes to go in the first. A turnover at center ice by Rasmus Ristolainen led to a 2-on-1. Reilly Smith got the pass through to Oscar Lindberg who buried the puck in the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.

Phil Housley's system showed it's true colors on a shift with Eichel's line, and Ristolainen and Marco Scandella on defense. The Sabres possessed the puck for about a minute straight, thanks in part to Scandella pinching, and then remaining down low to fore check and create a turnover to continue the pressure. Under previous coaches, Scandella may have been skating back to the blue line allowing Vegas to get the puck out.

Vegas' second goal of the night was not good positioning by the Buffalo defensemen. Alex Tuch stood right in front of Johnson, tipping a shot past him to take the lead. No Sabre was near Tuch to tie up his stick, let alone force him from Johnson's crease.

The next few minutes were controlled by the Golden Knights. Reilly Smith hit the crossbar with a near perfect wrist shot, and just after Ristolainen took a slashing penalty. The Sabres killed off the penalty, but didn't learn their lesson. The Sabres took two more penalties before the end of the period. Smith scored on the later of the two, to make the game 3-1.

The Sabres showed life on the first shift of the third period led by Eichel. However, just a few shifts later, Perron put another nail in the coffin, making it 4-1.

But the Sabres started to claw their way back into the game with 10 minutes to play in the game. O'Reilly, who was arguably the best Sabres player of the night, scored for the second time on a 5-on-3 powerplay opportunity. With under two minutes to go, Sam Reinhart deflected a Ristolainen shot past Subban to pull to within a goal.

Finally, with 8.9 seconds left to play, Evander Kane batted a puck out of mid-air and into the net to get the game to overtime. Officials waved off the goal at first because of a high stick, but the call was overturned after review and the game was tied at 4-4.

In overtime, Eichel almost put home a magical effort, eluding all three Golden Knights, but the backhand shot was blocked. Right afterwards, Ristolainen made a nice play to break up a 2-on-1 chanve for Vegas, something the Sabres haven't done much of this season. 

Vegas ended up getting their two points with 1:08 to play as Perron let go of a wrist shot that beat Johnson on the glove side. Eichel had gone into the corner to get his stick, which gave Perron space to let go of a great shot.

The Sabres now fall to 1-4-2 on the season, and end their four-game west coast road trip with three of a possible eight points.

Game Summary

Goal Summary:

First Period:

BUF: 6:24 - Ryan O'Reilly (1) PP (Evander Kane)
VGK: 14:15 - Oscar Lindberg (3) (Reilly Smith, William Karlsson)

Second Period:

BUF: None
VGK: 6:40 - Alex Tuch (2) (Brendan Leipsic, Deryk Engelland). 18:37 Reilly Smith (1) (Colin Miller, Brad Hunt)

Third Period:

BUF: 10:00 - Ryan O'Reilly (2) PP (Jack Eichel, Evander Kane). 18:02 Sam Reinhart (2) (Rasmus Ristolainen, Jason Pominville). 19:51 - Evander Kane (5) (Jack Eichel, Jason Pominville)
VGK: 3:50 - David Perron (1) (James Neal, Cody Eakin)


VGK: 3:52 - David Perron (2) (James Neal)

Penalty Summary:

First Period:

BUF: 7:11 - Benoit Pouliot (2 min., slashing)
VGK: 5:50 - David Perron (2 min., interference). 9:40 - Cody Eakin (2 min., holding)

Second Period:

BUF: 2:48 - Jack Eichel (2 min., holding). 9:35 - Rasmus Ristolainen (2 min., slashing). 13:56 - Jason Pominville (2 min., faceoff violation). 17:27 - Marco Scandella (2 min., slashing)

Third Period:

VGK: 8:28 - Alex Tuch (2 min., slashing). 9:51 - Deryk Engelland (2 min., slashing). 16:15 - Reilly Smith (2 min., high sticking)

Shots on Goal:

BUF - 34; VGK - 31

Power Play Summary:

BUF: 3 for 5 (60%)
VGK: 1 for 5 (20%)

Three Stars:

  1. Reilly Smith - VGK
  2. Alex Tuch - VGK
  3. David Perron - VGK

What's next?

The Sabres will leave for home on Wednesday, but will face another west coast team on Friday when the Vancouver Canucks come to town. Sabres fans may get a chance to see former Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson, along with former Sabres forward Thomas Vanek for Vancouver on Friday. Puck drop for the Sabres and Canucks on Friday is set for 7 p.m. Sabres pre-game coverage on WGR starts at 6 p.m. with Brian Koziol and Paul Hamilton.

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