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ONE UPPED

Sabres score in overtime to grab extra point

by TY PILSON @typilson / CalgaryFlames.com

Folks around these parts have gotten used to goals.

And lots of them.

The Flames headed into their tilt with the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome having tallied 100 markers at home this season, tied for tops in the 31-team loop.

In the three previous outings of their current five-game homestand, they had outscored the opposition 16-9. The most recent, of course, a 7-1 pasting of the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday night.

Against the Sabres, things started slow with the two teams tied 1-1 after two periods.

But it opened up at the end for a wild finish.

Both teams scored twice in the third in rapid succession before Jack Eichel - who moments earlier hit a post in OT - scored in extra time for a 4-3 victory.

Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Noah Hanifin scored for Calgary, while David Rittich made 19 saves.

Evan Rodrigues, Rasmus Dahlin and Jake McCabe had the other Buffalo goals, with Linus Ullmark making a handful of stellar stops as part of a 30-save performance.

The two clubs met earlier this year back on Oct. 30 in Buffalo, with Gaudreau scoring the winner in another OT contest.

"They're a good team," said Mark Giordano. "They're a playoff team in the East and they play well, they play fast. We had our looks, but we know we can be better. I think we can clean up a few areas. We gave them a few breakaways there that we don't usually do. At the end it was just... 3-on-3, if you get a chance. We had a 3-on-1 before they came back the other way and scored.

Eichel came close to putting his team up 1-0 before some fans had even settled into their seats to start the game, getting a great chance 30 seconds in with a wrist-shot that beat Rittich but clanged off the far post.

A few minutes later, Derek Ryan - playing in his 200th NHL game - nearly made it to the rebound of an Elias Lindholm shot that was sitting in the crease with an open net behind it, but Zach Bogosian beat him there and cleared it out of harm's way.

The Flames - who came into the tilt with a league-leading 11 shorthanded goals - had two partial breakaway chances while Mikael Backlund was in the bin for hooking, both Garnet Hathaway and Mark Jankowski - who is tied for tops in the NHL with four shorties already this campaign - stopped on backhand attempts.

With time winding down in the first period and the Flames on a powerplay courtesy of a Jason Pominville trip on Tkachhuk, Lindholm stepped into a slapshot from the right faceoff circle that Ullmark kicked out with the puck bouncing off Bogosian's skate and right onto the stick of Gaudreau, who snapped home his team-leading 28th tally of the season with just 0.5 seconds left to play.

The goal extended Johnny Hockey's current point streak to nine games (9-10=19).

Video: BUF@CGY: Gaudreau beats the horn with rebound PPG

Calgary would have doubled their lead if it wasn't for an early frontrunner for save of the year from Ullmark, who was able to slid across his crease after a tic-tac-toe passing play by Tkachuk, to Backlund to Michael Frolik, robbing the latter with an incredible glove save that ended with the goaltender gliding on his back 10 feet out of his crease.

After a flurry of chances for the Flames near the midway point of the second period, Rodrigues was sprung on a breakaway with a long pass up the middle and made good, sliding the puck five-hole on Rittich to knot things up at the 10:15 mark.

The Flames had some great chances for a go-ahead tally before the end of the second stanza, including an Austin Czarnik laser that went off the near post and two late Lindholm chances on a powerplay that Ullmark came up big on. 

Calgary kept up the pressure early in the third, with ankowski stoned point-blank in the crease and Sean Monahan squeezing a shot through Ullmark, who was able to flop backwards on the puck to freeze it.

Tkachuk made good after a flurry of chances on a powerplay at 6:49, finishing off another quick passing play from Gaudreau to Lindholm to No. 19 who was parked in the crease for an easy re-direct.

Video: BUF@CGY: Tkachuk tips in a power-play goal

The lead was shortlived however, with Dahlin - the guilty party seated in the box for Calgary's second goal - firing a point shot just 44 seconds later than deflected off Frolik's stick and changed direction going high past Rittich.

Then just over three minutes later, McCabe's point shot made its way past a partially screened Rittich to put the visitors back in front.

Keeping with the flavour of the period, Hanifin knotted things back up 34 seconds later with his fourth goal of the year, wristing his own point shot past a screened Ullmark.

The Flames outshot the Sabres 12-2 in the period.

Video: BUF@CGY: Hanifin rips home equalizer from the point

"We like where we're at right now," said Hanifin. "Tonight was more of a complete game. I thought we played a good 60 minutes tonight. Obviously some things we can clean up and work on, but it was a good game.

"It was a back and forth game," echoed Giordano. "When they gut up 3-2, they got some momentum, but we did a good job of scoring right away to get back in it.

"The guy made a good play in overtime. He got half a step and he's got a really good shot; he didn't have much to shoot at there and he put it short side. Good play by him."

Coach Bill Peters was happy with effort and overall play of his team.

"I liked us," he said. "We gave up two shots in the third ... both went in, unfortunately. I didn't mind us tonight."

The Flames, winners of five straight coming into the night, will now look to beging a new run of Ws.

"We were going good there for a while winning a bunch in a row," said Tkachuk. "But we've got to start a new streak here."

 

NEXT UP:

The Flames host the Red Wings Friday in their fourth tilt of this five-game homestand (7 p.m., TV: Sportsnet West, Radio: Sportsnet960 THE FAN).
 

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