Eichel scores in OT to give Sabres rare win in Calgary
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On his 13th attempt and seventh shot on goal of the night, Eichel scored 1:30 into overtime to give the Buffalo Sabres their first win at Calgary in more than 14 years, 2-1 over the Flames on Monday night.
Eichel one-timed a pass from Rasmus Ristolainen for his 19th of the season, putting through Smith's pads with a wicked one-timer that came shortly after Ryan O'Reilly beat Troy Brouwer on a faceoff deep in the Flames' end.
"I thought the faceoff at the end was a good opportunity for us to get a quick shot," Eichel said. "I said to (Ristolainen), try to get it in the middle and then I'll try to open up for a one-timer."
That's exactly how it played out.
Flames center Mikael Backlund watched helplessly as he tried to get back into the play after exiting the penalty box. He had taken a holding the stick penalty with 33 seconds left in regulation and his penalty had just expired as Eichel scored.
"I was pretty nervous in the box, hoping they wouldn't score. When I saw the clock run down, I was pretty excited to get on the ice and then they score," Backlund said. "A tough way to end the game and a tough way to let the guys down."
The goal extended Eichel's point streak to six games (four goals, six assists).
"I'm shooting the puck a little bit more, trying not to fine-tune things," he said. "That and just trying to work, get in on the forecheck a little more and get to the net."
Scott Wilson also scored and Chad Johnson stopped 32 shots to help Buffalo snap a four-game road losing streak and get its first victory on the Flames' home ice since Oct. 18, 2003.
Johnson, making his first start against his former team, improve to 2-8-3 on the season.
"Obviously there's more motivation there and a little more desire," he said. "Not stick it to them, but when they play me I'm sure they want to compete a little bit harder knowing me and I want to compete a little bit harder knowing them."
Calgary went into its bye week on a seven-game winning streak. Since they returned they've scored one goal in each game in a pair of overtime losses at home.
"We had some momentum going into it and then you come out of it, we're still getting some points, but I don't think we've played up to where we were before the bye," Smith said. "I think it's mental, more than anything, and just getting back going and getting back into the rhythm of things."
Buffalo's 30th-ranked power play had two chances to win it inside the final five minutes of regulation and while they didn't convert, the tying goal came shortly after the second man advantage expired.
Mikael Backlund's holding the stick penalty with 33 seconds left continued into overtime where Calgary killed it off, but the Sabres kept possession, leading to Eichel's goal.
The Sabres struggling penalty kill had given up 10 goals on its previous 24 chances and the trend continued eight minutes into the first period as Calgary scored on its first power play of the night.
After drawing the penalty, Tkachuk scored the goal on a deflection. Stationed in front of the net, he opened up his stick and swatted Johnny Gaudreau's pass out of the air and past Johnson.
The lead lasted just 24 seconds though with the Sabres converting a turnover. Mark Jankowski's pass from his own corner glanced off the stick of Travis Hamonic and right to Scott Wilson skating through the slot. Wilson fired a wrist shot past Smith for his second of the season.
Gaudreau was the most dangerous Flames player with five shots on net, but he couldn't solve his former teammate. Johnson stuck out the pad to stop him on a dangerous backhander on one rush. Gaudreau had a couple of wraparounds that almost led to goals but Johnson shut the door on both of them.
"(Johnson) was the best player tonight for us. He made some huge stops at times," O'Reilly said. "He was making huge stops and gave us a chance. It was nice to see him get the victory for us."
NOTES: Calgary made one lineup change, inserting Marek Hrivik on the fourth line in place of rookie Andrew Mangiapane. ... Buffalo RW Nicholas Baptiste made his first appearance since being recalled from Rochester of the AHL on Friday.
Sabres: At Edmonton on Tuesday night.
Flames: Host Los Angeles on Wednesday night.
Updated January 23, 2018