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Reinhart's hat trick leads Sabres past Jets

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG-- Sam Reinhart had his first career hat trick, and Marcus Foligno scored the go-ahead goal with 15:48 to go in the third period to help the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Sunday.

The win ended a season-high six-game losing streak for the Sabres (16-22-4).

The game marked the first time the teams met since a February 2015 trade that sent defenseman Zach Bogosian and left wing Evander Kane to Buffalo. They returned to Winnipeg for their first game against the franchise that selected them in the NHL Draft in back-to-back years (2008 and 2009, respectively). Jets forwards Drew Stafford, Joel Armia and defenseman Tyler Myers went to Winnipeg in the trade.

"We've been scratching and clawing for a win, and at the end of the day, we get the two points, get the win, and we get to move on," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.

Winnipeg outshot Buffalo 5-0 to start the third period before goaltender Connor Hellebuyck kicked out a long rebound of Brian Gionta's shot to the left circle that Foligno put into the net. The goal, Foligno's third of the season, was his first in 15 games dating to Dec. 4, 2015 and gave Buffalo a 3-2 lead.

Reinhart, the second pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, scored twice in the first period before adding an empty-net goal with 27 seconds left in the game. Kane assisted on the empty net goal.

Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg's leading scorer, had a first-period goal that ended a run of 12 games without a goal. Mathieu Perreault also scored and Bryan Little had two assists.

Kane chose to downplay the attention surrounding his return to Winnipeg, where he played nearly four seasons.

"We had this as game No. 42 for us, the start of the second half, and we needed to come out with some energy, get two points and get off this [losing] train we were on, and get back on the winning side of things," Kane said.

"I didn't know what to expect. It really had no bearing on what I thought or how I played. I didn't have a reaction to it. For me, it was another hockey game, and I'm happy we were able to get the win. ... Most buildings are all the same. If you come out and get the lead, it usually quiets things down."

Goaltender Linus Ullmark had a career-high 42 saves for Buffalo; Hellebuyck made 25 saves.

Winnipeg outshot Buffalo 44-29, including 33 shots in the final two periods, but could not tie the game a third time.

"We need to make good on the chances that we have," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "We didn't do that."

The Jets (19-20-3) remain last in the Central Division and began a stretch of nine of 10 games at home. Winnipeg is four points behind the sixth-place Nashville Predators.

"[There were] definitely big points [lost] and points we needed," Little said. "We can't really blame anyone or anything. It was in our own hands, and we didn't get the job done."

Reinhart started the scoring 1:37 into the game off a wrist shot from the top of the left circle. Wheeler answered 3:44 later when he tipped Little's slot shot past Ullmark.

Buffalo's eighth-ranked power play started the game 4-for-16 in its past four games, and it gave them their second lead of the game. On Buffalo's first power play with Myers off for holding, Reinhart took a cross-ice pass from defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and snapped a left-circle shot that deflected off Winnipeg defenseman Toby Enstrom and past Hellebuyck at 14:29.

The Sabres started the game with 15 first-period goals, the fewest in the NHL.

"I know that when we scored that first goal, our bench was pretty excited about [it]," Bylsma said. "That is something we haven't been able to do."

Reinhart has 12 goals which tie him with Anthony Duclair of the Arizona Coyotes for fourth in the NHL among rookies.

"We talked about [early leads]," Reinhart said. "It has been a frustrating time not having success early in games, and we've been having to try to come back late in the third [period]. To get a couple [of goals] early is great for our confidence."

Perreault tied the game 56 seconds into the second period when he put the rebound of Little's shot past Ullmark for his seventh goal to make it 2-2. He has three goals in his past five games.

Kane set up Reinhart's hat trick by opting for a pass instead of shooting on an empty net.

"It was a class move by Evander to dish the puck over because I know how very much he wanted to score one," Bylsma said.

Reinhart was appreciative of Kane's generosity.

"It says a lot for him handle the 'Welcome back,' if you put it that way, the way he did," Reinhart said. "To make the play that he did, really does show that he is unselfish and will do anything for the team."

With goaltender Robin Lehner nearing a return from a conditioning stint with Rochester of the American Hockey League, Ullmark's time with the Sabres could be limited.

"It has been an awesome opportunity to be here and compete with these guys," Ullmark said. "I just got good feelings from it, and I've learned a lot from it."

Bylsma praised his 22-year-old goaltender, a sixth-round pick (No. 163) in the 2012 NHL Draft.

"He made a bunch of dynamic saves for us to show what he can be as a goaltender," Bylsma said. "That's what he can be for us. That's what he is going to be for us in the future."

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