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Recap: Nilsson the hero as Sabres finally win

Buffalo wins despite only scoring once and giving up a tonne of shots

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo Sabres
Anders Nilsson (31) makes a save
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres ended their losing streak with a home win in the shootout over the Pittsburgh Penguins last night. A William Carrier redirection had put the Sabres up in the first period, and a heroic goaltending performance from Anders Nilsson kept the Stanley Cup champions at bay until the third period when Sidney Crosby tied the game on the power play.

Both sides had multiple chances to go on and win the game, but Marc-Andre Fleury also turned it on late in the game as a thrilling 3-on-3 overtime somehow ended without either side scoring.

Nilsson continued his blinder of a day in the shootout, denying Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. For the Sabres, Kyle Okposo and Sam Reinhart were foiled, but the unlikely source of Cal O’Reilly kept up his hot shootout streak (6 in 13 now) to win the game for Buffalo.

This was an important win for the Sabres, as they worked hard all game long and came away with the two points. Confidence has been at a season-low around the KeyBank Center, but with two home games yet to come, there is an opportunity for some renewed hope now.

Three Questions

1. Will backup Anders Nilsson keep out a high-powered Pens offense?

Amazingly enough, yes he did. Nilsson came into the game with the very respectable numbers of 1-1-2, 1.96 GAA and .942 SV%, and is now 2-1-2, 1.74 GAA and .951 SV%. Should he get the start tomorrow against the Calgary Flames? Bylsma wouldn’t comment last night.

2. Can the Sabres get an AHL 1-2 scoring punch?

Not quite in the way expected, but it did get the Sabres the two points. BrO’Reilly has been leading the AHL in scoring, and his expertise in the shootout finally ended Buffalo’s futility in the shootout after four straight losses after overtime.

3. Will the Sabres rejigged lineup make a difference by scoring more than one goal tonight?

Moving Johan Larsson to center the top line was a good idea as the Sabres were able to keep the Crosby and Malkin lines off the scoresheet on even strength.

Despite four power play attempts, pairing up Taylor Fedun with Rasmus Ristolainen didn’t quite work out though as the Sabres lost the special teams battle giving up a PP goal. Fedun however notched his second assist in a row and is starting to look very comfortable up at in Buffalo.

Comment of the game

In lieu of the regular selection, let’s comment instead on this hit by Brian Dumoulin on Marcus Foligno late in the second. Should there be secondary discipline for this boarding?

Just for perspective, even the Pitt blog Pensburgh mostly think that he merited more punishment, though they do have their commenters who think that Foligno embellished it. Quite why a largely-sane professional hockey player would propel himself head first into the boards risking permanent paralysis I will never understand, but hey, that’s just me.

Here’s what Foligno had to say about the hit -