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5 Observations: Sabres beat Penguins 2-1 in SO

Posted at 11:25 PM, Nov 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-19 23:28:21-05

As legendary Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis would say "Just win, baby."

Saturday it wasn't pretty, but the Buffalo Sabres snapped their six game losing streak, knocking off the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in a shootout. Sabres forward Cal O'Reilly scored the only goal in the shootout to seal the win. 

Five observations from Saturday's win:

Start building the Anders Nilsson statue

All kidding aside, Nilsson is now 2-1-2 on the season with a .951 save percentage and a 1.74 goals-against average. Wow. Saturday, he played his best game of the year -- stopping 46 shots and three more in the shootout. Buffalo, mainly because of Nilsson, was able to hold the defending Stanley Cup Champions to one goal, and that happened to come on the power play.

There aren't words to describe how solid Nilsson was tonight. He had the Sabres best goaltending performance of the year and it's the biggest reason why they were able to snap their six game losing streak. After the game Nilsson played off his performance saying "It just leaves me to do my job and stop the puck and today I was lucky enough to be able to do that."

Okay Anders, no need to be modest. Twitter basically exploded during the game with fans saying Nilsson deserves to be the starter. Following the win, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma was asked if Nilsson would get the start on Monday against Calgary. He responded that Nilsson had a great game, but that was all he would say.

I get the argument and absolutely think that Nilsson should be getting more games than he has -- but Lehner has been very good too. Neither goalie has gotten any help from the offense this year, so demoting Lehner seems a little drastic to me. That being said, If Nilsson keeps playing like this, ride the guy until he cools down. 

Clutch Cal

In his first game with the Buffalo Sabres this season forward Cal O'Reilly made his presence felt, scoring the game-winner in the shootout, snapping Buffalo's woeful losing streak. "I have a move I kind of start with, I come down and it seems to work pretty well," O'Reilly said moments after the win. "I went with it tonight and I got lucky to beat him there." 

Pretty well might be an understatement because O'Reilly is now 6 for 13 on shootouts in his career. O'Reilly finished with only 12:38 in ice time, but looked good during his limited minutes. In 15 games with the Rochester Americans O'Reilly has an impressive 18 points. He won't produce at that level in the NHL, but he's a reliable option for the Sabres, especially with all their injury concerns. I understand giving young guys an opportunity to play is important for long term development -- but right now a guy like O'Reilly might be exaclty what the Sabres need.  

Scoring woes continue 

After the game, Bylsma said that this was the type of game that the Sabres needed to win. Yes, the Sabres needed to win a close game, especially one in a shootout -- but they still only have seven goals in regulation in their last seven games. Buffalo's only goal on the night came on a William Carrier deflection (his first NHL goal) but the Sabres need to find ways to score more than one goal a game. To be fair, Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury also had a fantastic night, making things a little harder on the Sabres. 

Hey NHL, figure it out

With 30 seconds left in the second period Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin hit Marcus Foligno from behind into the boards on a scary play. Foligno remained down on the ice for about a minute until he finally got up. In my opinion, It was probably the dirtiest hit we've seen in a game involving the Sabres so far this year--yet Dumoulin was only penalized for two minutes.

When Foligno finally got up you could tell that Dumoulin was shaken up, but those are the kind of hits that can severely injure a player. A dangerous hit like that CANNOT be worth the same as a delay of game penalty. There's a good chance Dumoulin will hear from the league, but there is no way that should have been a minor penalty. Be better, NHL.

Here's what Foligno had to say about the hit after the game.

Fedun is fun

In Taylor Fedun's first two games with the Buffalo Sabres he has two assists. Not shabby. Fedun was on a tear in Rochester, scoring 12 points in 14 games -- but the change in competition hasn't seemed to bother the 28-year-old defender. Fedun has only played 14 career NHL games but has managed to record nine points during that stretch.

But it's not just the offense that has been impressive. Although it's a small sample size, Fedun has been solid in his own end -- which is certainly a good sign. With Bogosian likely out for at least a few more weeks, Fedun might be just what the Sabres were looking for.

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