Okposo gives Sabres 3-2 OT win against Red Wings
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly can complain all he wants about how frustrated he felt over the first two periods against the Detroit Red Wings.
The only thing that mattered to coach Dan Bylsma was how his top-line forward made a difference over the final 25 minutes in rallying Buffalo to a 3-2 overtime win Friday night.
O’Reilly tied the game with 4:09 left in regulation and then made a nifty flip pass to set up Kyle Okposo’s game-winner 4:34 into overtime.
“It was a big-time play from our guy wanting to be a leader on this team,” Bylsma said. “He willed that goal in the back of the net.”
The coach was referring to the single-handed effort O’Reilly made in producing his tying goal.
Chasing down Cody Franson’s long clearing pass up the right boards, O’Reilly got to the puck in the right corner and shoved aside Red Wings defenseman Danny Dekeyser. O’Reilly then skated behind the net and came out on the left side to beat goalie Petr Mrazek with a backhand.
The Sabres won it on Okposo’s power-play goal, which began with Jack Eichel feeding O’Reilly in the right circle. Hesitating for a moment, O’Reilly flipped the puck to Okposo parked at the right post. Okposo faked a shot and then drew the puck on his backhand and wrapped it across the crease and past Mrazek’s outstretched right pad.
“I was frustrated all game,” O’Reilly said. “And then for us to kind of stick with it and get on the board late, it’s nice. And hopefully we can build off that.”
Sam Reinhart also scored to help the Sabres overcome a pair of one-goal deficits. Anders Nilsson made 32 saves for Buffalo, which has won two straight against Detroit in one season for the first time since 1989-90.
Darren Helm scored for Detroit in his first game since missing 28 with a left shoulder injury. Frans Nielsen also scored and Mrazek was sharp in stopping 33 shots.
The Red Wings had a three-game winning streak snapped and took a rare loss to Buffalo. They fell to 8-0-2 in their past 10 meetings with the Sabres and 31-4-3 with a tie in their past 39.
It’s a run Detroit began with a 4-2 win on March 27, 1996.
The Red Wings were undone by a late defensive letdown and a power-play unit that ranks as the NHL’s worst.
Though Nielsen opened the scoring with a power-play goal, the Red Wings were unable to convert on their final three opportunities. That included a two-minute overtime advantage that ended shortly before Okposo scored.
“Obviously, you get a 4-on-3 for a full two minutes and you want to try to bury one, but we just couldn’t do it,” Dekeyser said. “It’s a little frustrating.”
The Red Wings have converted just four of 64 power-play chances in their past 18 games and dropped to 18 of 156 on the season.
Despite the loss, coach Jeff Blashill was particularly encouraged by Mrazek’s performance.
“He looks like he’s on top of his game. He’s got a swagger,” Blashill said. “I think he’s certainly trending in the right direction.”
Mrazek was exceptional in stopping all 13 shots he faced in the opening period.
His best save came with under two minutes left when Franson burst in on a 2-on-1 and fed a pass through the middle to Marcus Foligno. Mrazek got across just in time to get his blocker up and get a piece of Foligno’s shot
NOTES: Sabres D Jake McCabe hurt his right shoulder in the first period and did not return. Bylsma said McCabe will require further tests to determine the severity of the injury. ... Red Wings LW Thomas Vanek had a seven-game point streak snapped. He had five goals and five assists during the streak. ... Sabres LW Matt Moulson played in his 600th career game. ... The Red Wings planned to stay in Buffalo overnight because of weather-related issues in Detroit.
Red Wings: Host the New York Rangers on Sunday afternoon.
Sabres: At the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.