Recap: O’Reilly Leads Sabres past Red Wings

The Buffalo Sabres have struggled to win games against their division opponents throughout the season, with a 4-9-3 record in the division entering Friday night. The Detroit Red Wings came into the night on a three-game winning streak and are starting to get healthy. The Atlantic Division is down this year and neither team is out of it yet despite the struggles.

Needless to say, Friday was an important division game for both teams. The Red Wings wanted to keep the winning ways going, while the Sabres were looking to break a streak of losing three of their last four. Detroit is one of the few teams in the division that the Sabres have had success against, picking up three of the four points available in their two prior meetings.

First Period

The night didn’t start that well for the Sabres. Less than a minute into the game, top-pair defenseman Jake McCabe took an awkward fall into the boards after being tripped by Gustav Nyquist. McCabe would return later in the period, but after playing two shifts he went back into the dressing room and his night was over. The Sabres announced he would be out with a shoulder injury. After the game head coach Dan Bylsma announced McCabe would be further evaluated, but they need to call up a defenseman for their game in Montreal Saturday.

The Red Wings would get on the board first after a bad penalty by Zach Bogosian. Frans Nielsen put home his 10th of the season under the arm of Anders Nilsson. The Sabres’ 30th-ranked penalty kill continued its struggles by giving up a goal to the Red Wings 30th-ranked power play.

The Sabres were very sloppy for the majority of the period with their passing and allowed Detroit to control the majority of play in the opening 20 minutes. The Wings went to the locker room with a 1-0 lead and an 11-8 advantage in shots on goal.

Second Period

The home team started to get its forecheck going in the second period. The Red Wings were caught standing around and watching the puck in their own end. Buffalo had the better chances in the period and controlled the play. The Sabres got on the board on the power play with some nifty footwork by Sam Reinhart for his 10th of the season. He kicked the puck behind his back and tapped it in with his stick.

If it weren’t for a few nice saves, Detroit could have found itself down a goal or two instead of tied after two periods. The Wings’ goalie made point-blank saves on Jack Eichel and Kyle Okposo in the period to keep the score tied. Through 40 minutes the Sabres put 28 shots on Petr Mrazek while the Wings put 21 on Nilsson.

Third Period

The game was up for grabs to start the third period. Both clubs shared opportunities, but the goaltenders made some big saves to keep the game tied. However, with just over six minutes remaining in the final stanza, Darren Helm put the Red Wings ahead 2-1. He found a loose puck in front of the net for his fifth of the season in his first game back from injury.

The Red Wings looked to be on their way to getting out of Buffalo with a win on a late goal, but Ryan O’Reilly had other plans. O’Reilly put in hard work to get his ninth of the season on the backhand to tie the game with just over four minutes remaining in the final period. Each team got a few more chances in the final minutes, but at the end of regulation, the two teams would be tied at two.


The overtime period started with the Red Wings pinning the Sabres in their own end thanks to a broken stick. Former Sabres winger Thomas Vanek would end up getting loose and appeared to be headed in alone on Nilsson, but Kyle Okposo reached out for a hooking penalty. Vanek may have been deserving of a penalty shot, but the officials ruled a two-minute minor. The Red Wings would never really manage to get their power play set up, as O’Reilly won three big faceoffs during the penalty to help kill it off.

Moments after the Red Wings’ power play expired, Nielsen would end up putting his team a man short after he reached out to hook Rasmus Ristolainen. Unlike the Red Wings, the Sabres would not let their power-play opportunity in overtime go by without capitalizing.

O’Reilly found Okposo in front, who put the game-winner past Mrazek for a 3-2 Sabres win. The overtime goal was huge for the Sabres, with the shootout only 26 seconds away. The Wings are 6-0 in the shootout, while the Sabres hold a 1-5 record. The Sabres continued their strong play at home lately and picked up two important points.


Scoring Summary


DET – Frans Nielsen PPG (10) assisted by Mike Green


BUF – Sam Reinhart PPG (10) assisted by Jack Eichel and Rasmus Ristolainen


DET – Darren Helm (8) assisted by Justin Abdelkader and Alexey Marchenko

BUF – Ryan O’Reilly (9) assisted by Cody Franson and Justin Falk


BUF – Kyle Okposo PPG (14) assisted by Ryan O’Reilly and Jack Eichel

THW Three Stars

First: Ryan O’Reilly (1 G, 1 A)

Second: Kyle Okposo (GWG)

Third: Anders Nilsson ( 32 saves)

Next Up

Buffalo Sabres at Montreal Canadiens

Bell Centre – 7:00 p.m. EST (Saturday, Jan. 21)

Broadcast channels: MSG-B, TVAS & Sportsnet

2016-17 Season Series: Oct. 13 – Canadiens 4, Sabres 1 

Next Up

New York Rangers at Detroit Red Wings

Joe Louis Arena – 12:30 p.m. EST (Sunday, Jan. 22)

Broadcast channel: NBC

2016-17 Season Series: Oct. 19 – Red Wings 2, Rangers 1