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Sharpen Up: January 21, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Ryan O'Reilly helped get the job done last night in Buffalo's 3-2 overtime win over Detroit last night. He made a tremendous play to tie the game with 4:09 left and then set up Kyle Okposo's GWG on the power play. 

The Sabres are in Montreal tonight for another divisional matchup. They'll take on the Canadiens at 7 p.m. but make sure you're watching the TOPS Game Night pregame show on MSG starting at 6:30. You can also listen live on WGR 550.

Here's what you need to know.


About last night

Let's take another look at last night's win. Here are all of the highlights. And here's the game recap, which you should most definitely check out.

Video: Okposo nets overtime winner as Sabres beat Red Wings

To say O'Reilly's feats were impressive is maybe understating it. So here's what Dan Bylsma had to say about what the alternate captain was able to pull off:

Video: DET@BUF: O'Reilly beats Mrazek with nifty backhand

"He willed it," Bylsma said. "It was a big-time play from our guy wanting to be a leader on this team and just willed that goal in. From along the boards to behind the net to bringing it out, that's the best I can say. He willed that goal into the back of the net."

And let's hear from inside the locker room:

Video: OREILLY: Postgame Interview

Video: Kyle Okposo on the postgame show

Video: BYLSMA: Postgame Interview

 Video: REINHART: Postgame Interview

 Video: NILSSON: Postgame Interview

Injury update/Rasmus carries the load

Jake McCabe exited the game early in the first period with a shoulder injury, forcing the Sabres to play with five defensemen for pretty much the entire game.

The bulk of the extra work fell on - who else? - Rasmus Ristolainen, who skated a career-high 35:24. In addition to being on the ice for the entirety of the 4:34 overtime session, he was also on the ice for the final 45 seconds of regulation. 

The last NHL player to total at least 35:24 of ice time in a regular-season game was Erik Karlsson (36:34) on Dec. 20, 2015 at Tampa Bay. Since the beginning of the 2009-10 season, only nine players have topped Ristolainen's total in a regular-season game.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no Sabres player has topped Ristolainen's total since the NHL began tracking ice time in the 1999-2000 season.

Bylsma said the injury is one that McCabe has had before, but had no further update other than to say the defenseman would undergo further evaluation on Saturday.

A call up on defense is likely, so stick with us for any news on that front. McCabe is the third left-shot defensemen on the injured list, joining Josh Gorges (hip) and Dmitry Kulikov (lower back). Zach Bogosian, a right shot, has been filling in on the left side in recent games.

(UPDATE 11:15 a.m.) -  The Sabres announced they've recalled defenseman Casey Nelson from Rochester. Nelson has nine points (4+5) in 27 games for the Amerks this season, including three points (2+1) in his last five games. 

Tonight's matchup

From the Game Notes:
Tonight's game wraps up Buffalo's eighth of a league-high 19 sets of back-to-back games this season after the team's 3-2 overtime win last night vs. Detroit. The Sabres are 4-2-2 in the first game of back-to-back sets and 2-4-1 in the second game so far this season.

Buffalo's point breakdown in previous back-to-back sets this season is: four points (1), three points (2), two points (1), one point (1) and zero points (2).

The two clubs have not met since opening night, when the Habs won 4-1 in Buffalo.

The Sabres have gone 16-9-3 in their last 28 games against the Canadiens, including a 10-4-0 in 14 road games. The road team has won 12 of the last 17 matchups between these teams.

Kyle Okposo has six points (3+3) in his last six games against Montreal.

Cody Franson has four points (0+4) in his last four games against the Canadiens.

Ryan O'Reilly has 11 points (4+7) in 12 career games against Montreal.

Marcus Foligno has five points (4+1) in his last five games against the Canadiens.

On tap today

We'll have full game day coverage from Montreal so look out for our Morning Skate Report with everything that comes with it later on. Then we'll see you for the pregame show at 6:30 on MSG.

Also today, we'll debuting a new episode of Beyond Blue and Gold, presented by New Era. We sat down with Tyler Ennis, his parents and one of his best friends, Jared Spurgeon of the Minnesota Wild, as they talked to us about Ennis' recovery from a concussion last season. We all hope you enjoy it.

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