The Buffalo Sabres definitely were not favored to come away victorious against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes on Monday.
But, with their roster reduced to 16 players because of the flu and then 15 because of a second-period ejection to Drew Stafford for an elbow to the head of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the Sabres managed a 2-1 overtime victory courtesy one of the strangest goals of the regular season to date.
Mark Pysyk got credited for the winning goal – his first of the season – in overtime, after being the last Sabres’ player to touch the puck, which was deflected high into the air and landed in the hockey pants of Phoenix goalie Mike Smith.
Smith backed into the net and there was a delayed reaction to the Sabres’ celebration. The play was reviewed and called a good goal, giving Buffalo a win against the odds.
“At 3:47 of overtime in the Coyotes/Sabres game, video review supported the referee’s call on the ice that Mark Pysyk’s shot deflected into the air and landed in goaltender Mike Smith’s equipment and, while attempting to make the save, Smith’s momentum propelled him and the puck completely across the goal line. Good goal Buffalo,” the league wrote on its Situation Room Blog.
If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”
There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.
Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.
One team climbing, the other stumbling
With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.
During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.
Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.