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Sharpen Up: November 15, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Buffalo was in the driver's seat heading into the third period last night, but the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied back to win 5-4 in overtime at PPG Paints Arena.

The Sabres received goals from Evander Kane, Sam Reinhart (who had a three-point night with the goal and a pair of assists), Jack Eichel and Benoit Pouliot. Robin Lehner made 40 saves in net. 

Here's what you need to know.


About last night

Video: BUF Recap: Sabres lose early lead, fall in OT, 5-4

Here's a sampling from the Lexus Postgame Report

Through two periods on Tuesday night, the Buffalo Sabres went toe-to-toe with the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions and never seemed to blink. When the Pittsburgh Penguins punched, the Sabres punched back, sometimes literally and other times by finding the back of the net. 

It all added up to a 4-3 lead heading into the third period. What happened next stemmed from an overall shift in the team's mindset, at least in the opinions of the players who spoke following the game.

Video: EICHEL: Postgame Interview

"First two periods, I thought we tried to take it to them, third period we sat back and let them take it to us," Sabres forward Jack Eichel said. "We played scared to lose and not to win. They're a good hockey team. We knew we were going to get a hard push."

Pittsburgh outshot Buffalo 13-6 in the final period and Phil Kessel scored the tying goal with 6:11 remaining, paving the way for Connor Sheary to clinch a 5-4 win for the Penguins in overtime.

Video: REINHART: Postgame Interview

"We earned that lead going into the third," Reinhart said. "There's a reason why we have it. We're playing against probably the best team in the world the last few years. We play with the mindset that we're going to go take it to them, and we play with the lead. We lose it, and we sit back too much. The more opportunities you give that team, they're going to score more times than not."

Video: HOUSLEY: Postgame Interview

"The bottom line is we put ourselves in position to win a hockey game, going into the third period with a one goal lead," coach Phil Housley said. "We've got to be able to shut teams down. Good teams, they're going to create, but we've got to rely on our play without the puck and have urgency to protect the lead and then try to take advantage of mistakes the other team makes, which we came close to."

Video: LEHNER: Postgame Interview

Eichel explained that it was a failed switch on his behalf that left Sheary open to score on a feed from SidneyCrosby, who was stationed behind the net. Kane went down low to pick up Crosby, and Eichel was still looking for his man when Crosby delivered the pass.

"I think it was just a switch, and I didn't pick up Sheary quick enough. That's on me," Eichel said. "He made a good play. He spun off pretty quickly and made a nice pass there. I wasn't expecting it. I was trying to find my way to the front of the net."

Turkeys For Tickets tomorrow morning

The Sabres have partnered with Wegmans and Entercom Buffalo for a Thanksgiving turkey drive on Thursday, Nov. 16 to benefit local food pantries. The turkey drive will take place from 6 to 9 a.m. in the following locations:

• KeyBank Center Surface Lot (Enter lot from Baltimore Street, via Perry Street)

• Wegmans in Amherst (675 Alberta Dr., Amherst, NY 14226)

• Wegmans in West Seneca (370 Orchard Park Rd., West Seneca, NY 14224)

For every 20-pound turkey dropped off, or the equivalent of a 20-pound turkey, the Sabres will give the donor two tickets to an upcoming game. Tickets (maximum of four per person) will be distributed immediately at the drop-off sites. 

The annual Thanksgiving turkey drive returns this season after collecting more than 2,000 turkeys last year. All of the donated turkeys will directly benefit the Buffalo City Mission and the Food Bank of WNY.

Coming up today

The Sabres will not practice today as they get ready for a back-to-back set this weekend. They'll be in Detroit on Friday for their first trip to Little Caesars Arena and then come back home on Saturday for a game against Carolina.

Saturday is also Hockey Fights Cancer Night and fans in attendance will receive a commemorative Hockey Fights Cancer scarf, courtesy of Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

And be on the lookout for Brian Duff's latest edition of #Duffalo. 

We'll be back with full team coverage tomorrow.  

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