Dan Bylsma knew that Evander Kane would be receiving a penalty when Kane reached around Andy Greene to slow him down as Greene carried the puck toward the net in overtime. What followed - the referee pointing toward center ice, signaling a penalty shot - caught the coach off guard.
Greene slid the puck beneath the pad of Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson, and the overtime period ended less than 30 seconds after it began. The shot clinched a 2-1 victory for the New Jersey Devils at KeyBank Center on Friday night.
"Didn't expect to see it be that," Bylsma said of the call afterward. "It was a penalty, but I didn't expect to see the arm go to center ice."
Video: BUF Recap: Moulson scores in overtime loss to Devils
Nilsson had been outstanding in net to that point, making 41 saves and allowing just one goal in regulation in his first start since Oct. 29. That first goal came off the stick of Yohann Auvitu 3:13 into the third period on a high shot from the point that Nilsson saw late thanks to a net-front screen.
Nilsson thought he had played Greene's penalty shot well enough to make the save.
"I'm not trying to think about who's coming that much, I'm trying to read the play as it develops," Nilsson said. "Honestly, I thought I had him. I thought I had him covered and I thought I had it. But somehow it slipped through my pad."
The Sabres' loss on Friday night wasn't all that different from their loss by the same score to Ottawa on Wednesday. Both games saw the Sabres earn a first-period lead that they were unable to build upon thanks in part to an abundance of penalties.
Luckily, Buffalo's penalty kill was up to the challenge. Just as it had been against Ottawa, the penalty kill was tested by a long 5-on-3 in the second period and, once again, it was able to kill off the penalty successfully. The Sabres also killed off a double minor penalty for high-sticking assessed to Kane in the third.
The Sabres were 6-for-6 total on the penalty kill, improving their season mark at home to a perfect 17-for-17. For as successful as the penalty kill was, however, the amount of time spent shorthanded and the burden it placed on those killing the penalties threw the Sabres off after a 13-shot first period.
"It's tough when you run into penalties like that," forward Matt Moulson said. "They did a great job, but it really tires those guys out when you have that many."
Moulson scored Buffalo's only goal of the game in the first period, but they could have had more. Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons and William Carrier were among those who had grade-A scoring chances in front of the net in the first 20 minutes.
Instead, the Sabres were held to one goal or less for the third game in a row and the fifth time at home this season. They'll have a chance to steal one back from the Devils when they conclude their home-and-home set at Prudential Center on Saturday night.
"We've just got to find a way to score," Kane said. "That's our biggest area and biggest issue."
O'Reilly leaves due to injury
Ryan O'Reilly was questionable to begin the day after missing Buffalo's game on Wednesday due to injury, but started the game and played without issue for the first two periods. He left the game with 16:11 remaining in regulation, however, after he reaggravated his injury in the faceoff circle.
Bylsma said that O'Reilly is questionable to play in New Jersey on Saturday. The team is currently carrying Cole Schneider as an extra forward.
"It wasn't like he went into the game playing with the injury," Bylsma said of O'Reilly. "He felt fine to go and I haven't talked to him other than to know he reaggravated it in the faceoff circle there in the third period. Obviously it's day-to-day tat this point. If he can't go tomorrow, with a day off Sunday and another day in-between, I don't see it lingering."
Moulson has a day
What kind of man can tie the NHL lead for power-play goals, win discounted burritos for thousands of people, and support the troops with tickets to a game while simultaneously supporting prostate cancer awareness with a mustache so lethal it makes Tom Selleck look like Ian Ott?
For Matt Moulson, this is just another day at the office.
Moulson scored his fifth power-play goal of the season to put the Sabres on the board 10:34 into the first period. Sam Reinhart put the puck deep in the offensive zone, where O'Reilly tapped it to the net front. Moulson was able to retrieve it and shoot with space, opting to beat goalie Keith Kinkaid with a shot to his glove side.
"I think when our power play is on, everyone's kind of creating chances," Moulson said. "Whoever the pen guy is getting the chance. Sometimes it's me, sometimes its other guys. You just have to take advantage when you are the guy that's open."
Moulson is now tied with Winnipeg Jets rookie Patrik Laine for the league-lead with his five power-play goals.
Not only was Friday Veterans Day, it was also Military Appreciation Night at KeyBank Center. You can watch a recap of the night in the video below.
Video: Military Appreciation Night Recap
Same teams, different day
If one game wasn't enough for you to get your fill of the Sabres and Devils, fear not - these two teams meet again at Prudential Center in New Jersey on Saturday night. The game will conclude the second of Buffalo's League-high 19 back-to-back sets this season.
Coverage on Saturday begins with the TOPS Pregame Show at 6:30 p.m., or you can listen live on WGR 550. The puck drops between the Sabres and Devils at 7 p.m.