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Sabres give up late lead in OT loss to Blackhawks

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

CHICAGO - With just over two minutes to play Thursday night at United Center, the Buffalo Sabres had a chance to close out their two-game road trip against two very tough opponents with a pair of wins.

However, their opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks, tied the game with 2:04 remaining to send the game into overtime. Then, 56 seconds into the extra period, Patrick Kane scored to give Chicago a 4-3 victory. 

The Sabres are now 3-9 in overtime this season. 

"Too many overtime losses this year. It's painful," Jack Eichel, who scored early in the third to give Buffalo a 3-2 lead, said. "You have a chance to steal four points on a road trip against two very, very good teams. We get three, but the fourth is there. They add up. It's definitely a tough one."

Video: BUF Recap: Sabres give up lead late, fall in overtime

Buffalo was coming off a strong defensive effort in the form of a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday. In that game, the Sabres got off to a strong start and we able to carry the play from there. Thursday's game against Chicago was a different story. 

The Blackhawks took charge right away. A penalty to Evander Kane for elbowing while on the forecheck just 1:18 into the game set the stage for a flurry of Blackhawks chances in the Buffalo zone. Chicago managed five shots on goal during that first power play, but Anders Nilsson held strong between the pipes. 

Buffalo was being outshot 11-1 when Marcus Foligno intercepted a pass along the left-wing boards by Brent Seabrook -- thanks to Eichel pressuring Seabrook into the turnover -- skated in and scored to give Buffalo the lead at the 7:21 mark.

Video: BUF@CHI: Foligno grabs turnover, opens the scoring

Chicago ended up outshooting Buffalo 20-6 in the first while dominating a majority of the play. They finally solved Nilsson with 3:40 remaining when Ryan Hartman cut in and beat the Sabres goaltender top shelf glove side. 

"We wouldn't be in the situation with an opportunity to win the game if it wasn't for our goalie so you definitely have to give him a lot of credit," Eichel said. "We came out flat. Obviously they're a pretty talented group. They created a lot in the first period and Nils stood on his head for us. We get a point but we should've had two."

Nilsson finished the game with 39 saves in his second-straight start.

"We felt like that their best period of hockey in the first perod that they could throw at us," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "Nils made some big saves. The penalty kill had to kill off two in the first and we did get the first goal."

Buffalo regained the lead with 1:50 remaining in the second. Kyle Okposo was able to direct the puck in short side following a Sabres shoot-in on the power play. With the goal, Okposo extended his point streak to four games (3+1).

Video: BUF@CHI: Okposo beats Crawford on backhand for PPG

However, the Blackhawks roared back on the next shift to tie the game just 18 seconds later. Artem Anisimov tallied his first of the night when his shot deflected off Rasmus Ristolainen and in past Nilsson.

Buffalo opened the third period on the power play and wasted no time to get back in front. Ryan O'Reilly dished a backhand pass to Eichel and Eichel, standing at the left faceoff dot, ripped a one-timer in. He is now on a five-game point streak (3+3).

Video: BUF@CHI: O'Reilly sets up Eichel for power-play blast

That lead, like the other two, however, would not hold. Kane floated a backhand in front of the net and then with 2:04 remaining in regulation, Anismiov knocked in a rebound for his second of the night to force overtime.

While O'Reilly picked up a pair of assists in his return to the lineup after missing the past for games due to an appendectomy, it's a play in overtime that will stick with him.

Toward the end of his shift, O'Reilly decided to drive down the right wing with the puck to try and generate a scoring chance. He ended up losing the puck behind the net and Chicago started back up on the rush, leading to Kane's game winner.

"It was a bad decision by myself. I had possession of the puck. I think I should've curled up, kept possession and we should've changed," O'Reilly said. "It's just a bad play by myself. I just tried to hold the puck, just tried to get around him. It probably wasn't the smartest play. From there, it was just a transition. I was gassed. I put us in a bad spot, giving them a 3-on-2. It's frustrating. The game was there for us and we could've won."

Buffalo did collect three of four points on the trip and head back home as they prepare for a Saturday afternoon game against the Winnipeg Jets at KeyBank Center.

"We definitely showed a lot of resiliency. It's just tough," Eichel said. "We all really wanted that second point and I almost think it's been the tale of our season. We get to these situations and we're not able to put a stamp on the game. It's why we find ourselves out of the playoffs and far back. It's disappointing." 

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