Game 20: A win to circle for later
The Sabres rallied to a 3-2 win at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins after being down 2-0 after two periods, much in part due to the words and actions of Kyle Okposo.
BUFFALO — Friday’s game was a “put a star next to that one” effort for the Buffalo Sabres.
Buffalo’s offense has been struggling and the losses have mounted recently including a frustrating effort in Washington in which they gave up the tying goal late in the third and then lost with seconds left in overtime. The morale on the outside was low and the team has been frustrated about how difficult it’s been to score goals this season.
Friday night was looking to be yet another one of those kinds of games after the Pittsburgh Penguins got out to a 2-0 lead after two periods. The Sabres had opportunities through most of the first only to see shots go high and wide or had Pens starting goalie Alex Nedeljkovic bat them away.
It was five consecutive periods without a goal against the Penguins and the more veteran Pittsburgh squad used their senior wiles to make it all the more frustrating for the Sabres. The fans booed the team to the locker room and the stars were aligned for further angst. In the locker room after that second period, the mood changed thanks to captain Kyle Okposo.
“Okie said some things that I think everyone wanted to run through a brick wall after he spoke,” Alex Tuch said. “He’s the type of guy that, it doesn’t matter what he says, everyone in here is going to listen. He leads by example, has a big goal for us. It doesn’t matter whether he scored that goal or not, he was doing all the little things and he was working his ass off out there and that’s what he’s been doing.”
Jeff Skinner, Okposo, and Tuch each scored in the third to give the Sabres a 3-2 comeback win, the kind of win that if they’re able to take their collective game in a new, upward direction, will be one to remember.
“I felt our team was very competitively upset,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “There’s other words to describe that. But they were not happy in a very competitive manner and were ready to take more initiative. I don’t think they were conscious that they hadn’t scored in (five) periods (against Pittsburgh). I think they were very conscience that they felt they should have scored already and were determined to score now. That was evident by the action in the third.”