Victor Olofsson scored to give them a third-period lead, but the Buffalo Sabres were only able to come away with a point in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames in KeyBank Center on Wednesday.
It was a tightly contested contest leading up to Olofsson's goal, which made the score 2-1 at the 1:55 mark of the final period. Matthew Tkachuk buried a loose puck around the Buffalo net to tie the game less than three minutes later, then Elias Lindholm scored the winning goal 1:17 into overtime.
The Sabres outshot the Flames, 36-29. Even-strength scoring chances were also in their favor by a tally of 28-22, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
"It's definitely frustrating, the final result," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "I thought it was a well-played hockey game for a neutral observer, they would have said it was a good game. It was tight. Calgary played well, played hard.
"But we definitely had the chances to put it away after the 2-1 [goal] and the inability to do that and then have a D-zone breakdown to allow them back into the game is really, really disappointing. Again, it's a painful situation that we have to manage and use in the right way."
Video: BUF Recap: Vesey, Olofsson score in OT loss
Krueger described Tkachuk's goal as a defensive-zone breakdown, one that began with Tkachuk winning the puck in the corner and throwing it out in front of the Buffalo net. Mikael Backlund took an initial shot that was stopped by Linus Ullmark, but a second attempt bounced to Tkachuk at the edge of the right circle.
"Every team's going to make a push when they're down and they did," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "We were actually resisting it quite well and it looked like we were actually close to getting the 3-1 goal.
"But, again, it was just a D-zone breakdown, lost a man out of the corner and a little bit of chaos they scored on. Yeah, it's certainly an area we got to tighten up on those kinds of situations and just deal with it better in the future."
The Sabres had chances to regain the lead throughout the remainder of the period, including a power play that saw them generate six shots against goalie David Rittich. Despite those quality chances and plenty of zone time, the power play finished the night 0-for-2.
Krueger pointed to the power play, which has been cold for the past 12 games, as an area that can spark more offense at even strength. The other is simply confidence.
"We try to set it up so that we get the majority of scoring chances which we did again today," Krueger said. "That's generally the plan, so the guys are sticking with the plan. For me, it's a mindset right now, it's a negative momentum against us right now on the results.
"We need an explosion one day probably, have a five, six, seven-goal game to really get out of this situation. But stick with it and creating scoring chances is a positive. The finishing, that's probably one of the biggest challenges. … But we need to do more. We need to create more second chances; we need to be even stronger inside to create a different type of scoring chance if we keep getting stuck like this."
Jeff Skinner and Conor Sheary produced some of Buffalo's best chances, tallying four shots apiece in their first game on a line centered by Johan Larsson.
"There's a lot of little things I think you've got to do and those little things add up so you can't really point to one thing," Skinner said.
"I think we've got to do a good job and work hard to get inside on teams and get pucks to the net and get body position so that we can create off of rebounds. That's the way you score sometimes in this league is ugly goals and we've got to do a better job of getting some of those."
Vesey, Asplund connect shorthanded
It took Vesey until Monday night in Tampa to notch his first goal as a member of the Sabres. It wasn't for a lack of chances; Vesey ranked fifth on the team entering that game with 30 scoring chances at 5-on-5.
Sometimes, all it takes is one to go in. Vesey got another breakaway chance after an attempted breakout pass deflected high off the stick of Rasmus Asplund and beat Rittich off his forehand for his second goal in as many contests.
Video: CGY@BUF: Vesey snaps SHG past Rittich on breakaway
"We talked as a penalty kill group of being more aggressive down ice and we got a good rotation," Vesey said. "He caused the turnover. I'm not sure if anyone else on the ice knew where the puck was besides me. It fell right in front of me. It was a big goal, I think, in the moment to tie the game, but we have to find ways to get results."
Asplund earned the assist on the goal for the first point of his NHL career. His night included a shot that rung the post in the first period and another scoring chance that found him cutting across the net in the third. Afterward, he said he felt it was the best of his seven NHL games.
"Asplund you can see as a winger is a threat," Krueger said. "He can make a play, he defends well, he's evolving here daily. We really enjoy working with Rasmus Asplund. He's somebody you trust. You trust him in your own end and you trust him with the puck. That goal was no fluke for sure.
Olofsson's goal extended his point streak to a career-high five games. The rookie now has nine points (3+6) in his last 10 games.
The play began with a burst of speed through the neutral zone from Jack Eichel, who passed to Olofsson upon crossing the offensive blue line. Olofsson picked the far-side corner from the left faceoff circle.
Video: CGY@BUF: Olofsson wires far-side wrister past Rittich
The assist extended Eichel's point streak to seven games. He has 12 points (6+6) in that span.
The Sabres host the Toronto Maple Leafs to kick off a home-and-home set on Friday. Coverage on MSG begins at 3:30 p.m., or you can listen live on WGR 550. Puck drop is scheduled for 4.
Make sure to stay tuned during the first and second intermissions for the debut of Beyond Blue and Gold: Ray vs. Domi. You can find more information in the tweet below.