5 Observations: Sabres top Red Wings 3-2 in OT

5 Observations: Sabres top Red Wings 3-2 in OT
Posted at 10:47 PM, Jan 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-20 23:33:21-05

The Buffalo Sabres couldn't afford to lose this game and when things looked bleak forward Ryan O'Reilly was the man to step up. My friends, this is why I think O'Reilly needs to be the Sabres next captain, but that's a different discussion for another day.

With less than five minutes left O'Reilly tied the game at two. In overtime O'Reilly joined the party yet again, sending a nice saucer pass to Kyle Okposo, who buried home his own rebound, knocking off the Detroit Red Wings 3-2.

Five observations from Friday's win:

Quite the comeback

A loss to ANOTHER division opponent would've been incredibly deflating for the Sabres, especially after playing a pretty solid all-around game. When Detroit took the lead late in the third period the Sabres immediately responded, tying the game up just two minutes later.

After the game, O'Reilly said that these are the kind of games that a young team can build off. We've heard that from the locker room already this season -- now it's time to walk the walk.

*Side note* Kudos to Rasmus Ristolainen -- he logged a career-high 35:24 in ice time, including 4:28 during overtime. 

Missed opportunities early

The Sabres actually applied a lot of pressure in the first period but came away with nothing to show for it. 

Their best chance, at least in my opinion came on a two-on-one with Cody Franson and Marcus Foligno. Yes, that Cody Franson. The Sabres defender joked a flatfooted Red Wing and flew into the zone, sending a perfect pass over to Foligno. Mrazek was falling to the ground when Foligno took his shot but deflected the puck over the net with his blocker.

Fellow forward Sam Reinhart also just missed on a scramble in front of the net, sliding the puck just to the right of the post. Buffalo finished with 13 shots and some nice chances but no goals.


Reinhart redeemed himself with a power-play goal in the second period — so small victories.

McCabe injury could be devastating for Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres are not very deep on the blue line and that’s putting it lightly. On Friday just minutes into the game Jake McCabe had his legs taken out from under him and crashed hard into the boards.

He returned a few minutes later, but after a shift returned to the locker room.

The Sabres are already without Josh Gorges and Dmitry Kulikov, and while neither has impressed this year, they’re still NHL defensemen. McCabe has been the Sabres second best defensemen this year and has been paired for most of the year with their best defender, Rasmus Ristolainen. If he’s out for an extended period of time the Sabres are in a whole lot of trouble.

After the game, Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said McCabe will be further evaluated tomorrow and could provide no further update. 

Great goaltending for both teams

Both Mrazek and Anders Nilsson played very solid games for their respective teams.

Mrazek finished the night with 34 saves, two more than Nilsson's 32. With the win, Nilsson improves to 6-1-1 at home this season. Play him every home game!

That being said, Mrazek was unbelievable tonight. He made so many saves to keep the Red Wings in the game in the first period -- without him, things could've gotten out of hand.

Thomas Vanek is still very good 

Is there a better bargain in the N.H.L. than Thomas Vanek? Seriously, I’m not sure there is. He’s 33-years-old, so he’s getting up there in age, but he can still play at an extremely high level.

In 35 games Vanek has 31 points and it doesn’t look like he’s going to slow down anytime soon. It’s still obvious that he has incredible hands and can dish the puck to his teammates.

Earlier in the day, Vanek told Paul Hamilton from WGR 550 that his game has really developed over his career and Detroit fits his style of play. When used in the right system Vanek can still be a very valuable weapon — and next year he’ll be a free agent. It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up.