Sabres force overtime, but fall 6-5 to the Canucks

Buffalo fights hard to tie the game late in the third, but J.T. Miller ends the game in overtime

Brayton Wilson
December 07, 2019 - 4:22 pm

Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin - USA TODAY Sports


Although the Buffalo Sabres battled back from two separate two-goal deficits to force overtime, the Vancouver Canucks prevailed by a 6-5 final score on Saturday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Sabres were able to force overtime with a late goal from forward Marcus Johansson with 58.5 seconds to go in regulation to tie the game at 5-5. However, it was Canucks forward J.T. Miller who ended the game with 1:39 to go in the overtime with a power play goal over the glove of Sabres goalie Carter Hutton.

The loss hands Buffalo its second defeat on its three-game road trip through Western Canada. The Sabres fell to the Calgary Flames on Thursday night with a 4-3 loss at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Vancouver opened the scoring with nearly seven minutes remaining in the first period as forward Josh Leivo was able to beat Hutton with a wrist shot to the blocker side. After Canucks defenseman Jordie Benn flipped a puck to center ice and in front of the Buffalo bench, the puck bounced over the stick of Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella, allowing Leivo to get the puck in behind the Buffalo defenseman. Leivo then walked in on a 2-on-1 rush and fired his shot from the right faceoff circle to the back of the net.

The Canucks ended up controlling the pace of the period, not allowing Buffalo to get much time established in the offensive zone. Vancouver ended up outshooting the Sabres 9-5 in the first 20 minutes, while also leading in the goal department, 1-0.

It did not take the Canucks long to add to their lead in the second period. After a Tyler Myers shot hits Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen in front of the Buffalo net, Canucks forward Antoine Roussel picked up the rebound and tapped his second of the season into a wide-open net.

However, it did not take the Sabres long to respond to tie the hockey game at 2-2.

Just 2:17 after the Canucks increased their advantage, Buffalo cut the deficit to one as Kyle Okposo got his shot to trickle through Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko and in for his first goal since Oct. 5. After some nice work by forward Jeff Skinner in the Vancouver end, it was Johan Larsson who ended up finding Okposo in front, and his quick one-time tap to the net went in for his second of the year.

A little more than a minute later, forward Sam Reinhart was able to get a piece of a  Ristolainen shot in front of Demko to even the score. On a delayed penalty to Vancouver, the Sabres went to work with the extra man in the Canucks' end. Sabres captain Jack Eichel made a nice move along the left boards to find forward Victor Olofsson with some open space in the slot. Olofsson then dropped a pass back for Ristolainen, who's shot was redirected by Reinhart for his 11th goal of the season.

For Reinhart, the goal gave him a goal in four straight games against his hometown team.

Vancouver regained the lead with 2:49 remaining in the second as Leivo was able to score his second goal of the game to make it 3-2. After a turnover by Scandella at center ice, the Canucks turned it into a quick rush into the Buffalo zone. Canucks forward Elias Pettersson was able to draw Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour to him, leaving Leivo with some open space for a shot that beat Hutton over the left shoulder.

With time running down in the period, the Canucks got sloppy trying to defend the Sabres in their own end, which resulted in their third penalty of the period.

With 46.3 seconds to go in the second, Olofsson fired home his first power play goal since Oct. 16 as he took a nice feed from Sam Reinhart down low and beat Demko with a shot over the left shoulder of Demko.

With the secondary assist on Olofsson's goal, Eichel was able to extend his current point streak to a career-high 12 games.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Sabres had flipped the script with the shot advantage being in their favor, 20-19. However, the score remained tied at 3-3.

Buffalo went back to work on the power play early in the third period as Roussel tripped up defenseman Brandon Montour in the Buffalo end. However, struggles on the man advantaged continued as Myers connects with forward J.T. Miller on a shorthanded goal to give Vancouver the lead again, 4-3. It was the former Sabres' first goal of the season.

Nearly six minutes later, the Canucks upped their lead to 5-3 as Roussel deposited a Jake Virtanen rebound into a wide-open net for his second of the night.

Buffalo quickly responded again 1:25 later as Zemgus Girgensons carried a puck out of the Vancouver corner, found some open space, and fired in his fourth goal of the year over the glove of Demko.

The Sabres kept the pressure up on Vancouver with time running down in the game, generating some quality chances as they looked to tie the game.

Finally, Buffalo got the tying goal with less than a minute to go as Johansson's one-time slap shot from the point finds its way through a screen and through the five-hole of Demko. The goal was Johansson's fifth of the season, and his first goal since Oct. 19.

With the primary assist on Johansson's goal, Eichel achieved another milestone with his 300th career point.

The shots on goal were fairly even in the third, 9-8 in favor of Vancouver, but the game needed more than 60 minutes to decide a winner.

Eichel thought he had scored the game-winning goal at the 2:09 mark of overtime, however, the play had been blown dead because of a Henri Jokiharju tripping penalty in the offensive end.

On the ensuing power play opportunity for Vancouver, Miller ended the game with a one-time slap shot off a feed from defenseman Quinn Hughes that gave the Canucks the 6-5 overtime win.




Goal Summary:

First Period:

VAN: 12:57 - Josh Leivo (5) (Jordie Benn, Troy Stecher)

Second Period:

BUF: 5:24 - Kyle Okposo (2) (Johan Larsson, Jeff Skinner); 6:28 - Sam Reinhart (11) (Rasmus Ristolainen, Victor Olofsson); 19:16 - Victor Olofsson (12) PPG (Sam Reinhart, Jack Eichel)
VAN: 3:07 - Antoine Roussel (2) (Tyler Myers, Jake Virtanen); 17:11 - Josh Leivo (6) (Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser)

Third Period:

BUF: 12:05 - Zemgus Girgensons (4) (Johan Larsson); 19:01 - Marcus Johansson (5) (Jack Eichel, Rasmus Ristolainen)
VAN: 4:51 - Tyler Myers (1) SHG (J.T. Miller, Tanner Pearson); 10:40 - Antoine Roussel (3) (Jake Virtanen, Troy Stecher)


VAN: 3:21 - J.T. Miller (13) PPG (Quinn Hughes, Brock Boeser)


Penalty Summary:

First Period:

BUF: 2:01 - Kyle Okposo (Tripping - 2 min.)

Second Period:

VAN: 7:12 - Jake Virtanen (Slashing - 2 min.); 14:51 - Jay Beagle (Tripping - 2 min.); 18:50 - Quinn Hughes (Tripping - 2 min.)

Third Period:

VAN: 3:35 - Antoine Roussel (Tripping - 2 min.)


BUF: 2:09 - Henri Jokiharju (Tripping - 2 min.)


Shots on Goal:

BUF: 28 (5, 15, 8, 0)
VAN: 30 (9, 10, 9, 2)


BUF: Carter Hutton - 24 saves
VAN: Thatcher Demko - 23 saves

Power Plays:

BUF: 1 for 4 (25%)
VAN: 1 for 2 (50%)

Three Stars:

  1. Antoine Roussel (VAN)
  2. Jack Eichel (BUF)
  3. Josh Leivo (VAN)

What's Next:

The Sabres conclude their three-game Western Canada road trip on Sunday with a matchup against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta. Faceoff is set for 8 p.m. on WGR with the Paul William Beltz Pregame Show starting at 7:30 p.m. with Brian Koziol at the conclusion of Bills-Ravens postgame coverage.

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