The Buffalo Sabres dropped their final game before the All-Star break in a 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Although the Sabres opened the scoring, they gave up several chances and allowed the Canucks to come back, then found themselves in a hole multiple times.
Evan Rodrigues extended his goal-scoring streak to three games, opening the scoring 8:48 into the first period. Rodrigues picked up a puck close by the net and tipped in a bounce behind Canucks netminder Thatcher Demko to make it 1-0 Buffalo.
Vancouver went much of the period without registering a shot on goal, but then scored on back-to-back shots. Alexander Edler tied the game a few minutes after Rodrigues’ goal, on Vancouver’s third shot of the game. Edler’s goal came on a blast from the point that found its way through a crowd of players in front of Linus Ullmark.
Another shot combined with a defensive breakdown led to another goal for the Canucks. This time, a pass from Derrick Pouliot, who got around multiple Sabres players as he carried the puck into the zone, reached Sven Baertschi, who put it behind Ullmark.
Vancouver held a 2-1 lead going into the second period, despite being outshot 10-4. Buffalo rallied back and it took just 2:26 for the Sabres to tie things up in the second period. This time, it was Kyle Okposo getting on the board for his eighth of the season, scoring on a backhand from right in front of the net.
Later in the middle frame, Lawrence Pilut attempted a backhand pass to Rasmus Ristolainen from the corner to the left of Ullmark; his pass missed Ristolainen, who wasn't quite in the lane, and hit the stick of Brock Boeser, who scored to make it 3-2.
One way or another, Pilut was on the ice for each of the game’s first five goals, as the Sabres gave up three goals on eight shots. It’ll be interesting to see how Phil Housley and co. handle Pilut after Friday night’s game, and whether this may mean Pilut returns to the press box - or Rochester - sooner rather than later.
Sam Reinhart would tie the game on an absolutely beautiful goal past the midway point of the game. Eichel passed the puck across the ice to Conor Sheary, who passed it to Reinhart right in front of the net. Reinhart took it backhand and bounced it off the frame of the net and in to make it 3-3.
Reinhart from Sheary and Eichel— Ben Mathewson (@Ben_Mathewson) January 19, 2019
The score remained tied for the rest of the second period and the opening minutes of the third, but Vancouver regained the lead on a goal by Loui Eriksson. Josh Leivo fed the puck around Zach Bogosian to Eriksson in front of the net for the goal as multiple Sabres, including Marco Scandella, failed to cover Eriksson.
As the minutes ticked away, the Sabres just couldn’t score. They outshot the Canucks in the third period and had plenty of zone time including power-play chances, but small mistakes were ultimately what got in their way.
The Sabres’ next game now isn’t until Tuesday, January 29 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The break includes Buffalo’s bye stretch as well as the All-Star Game break.
Final: Canucks 4, Sabres 3
Shots on Goal: Sabres 39 | Canucks 23
Sabres Goal Scorers: Evan Rodrigues (4), Kyle Okposo (8), Sam Reinhart (11)
Canucks Goal Scorers: Alexander Edler (5), Sven Baertschi (7), Brock Boeser (16), Loui Eriksson (9)
Three Stars of the Game
1. Thatcher Demko (36 saves)
2. Bo Horvat (2 assists)
3. Sam Reinhart (1 goal)