Buffalo Sabres slip past Anaheim Ducks in shootout

By Joseph D'Hippolito, The Sports Xchange  |  March 18, 2017 at 8:35 AM
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Buffalo Sabres ended a frustrating trip to California by beating one of the Western Conference's contenders.

Zemgus Girgensons scored in the 10th shootout round to give the Sabres a 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night at the Honda Center.

Ryan O'Reilly scored in regulation for the Sabres (29-31-12), who received 40 saves from Anders Nilsson.

"We stole one tonight," said O'Reilly, whose team was outscored 6-1 by the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings in the past two games.

"It wasn't our greatest game, but it started with," O'Reilly said about Nilsson. "He played phenomenal and gave us a chance. It's been tough. It hasn't been a good trip, but every team on the West Coast always plays heavy and hard. They don't give you much. It's nice to get one win in."

Rickard Rakell scored for the Ducks (37-23-11), who moved within six points of the first-place San Jose Sharks in the Pacific Division.

"I didn't think we were sharp with the puck," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "I think we had 22 shots directed toward the net that missed the net, and they had a bunch of blocked shots."

Anaheim will travel to the Bay Area to play the Sharks on Saturday night.

"We're going into a tough building but we've played well in there before," Carlyle said. "We're not shaking in our boots by going in there; we know that."

Girgensons faked to his backhand before depositing a wrist shot over the right leg pad of Ducks goalie Jonathan Bernier, who stopped 31 shots in regulation, 14 of the in the third period.

Rakell used his 31st goal of the season to extend his goal-scoring streak to four consecutive games and give the Ducks a 1-0 lead with 8:12 left in the first period.

Montour began the scoring sequence with a backhanded pass from behind the net to Cam Fowler, who fired a slap shot from near the right point. Rakell deflected the puck out of the air to the ice before backhanding it behind Nilsson for his ninth goal in 10 games.

The Sabres had a chance to tie the score when they went on a 2-on-1 breakaway 1:30 into the second period. But Evander Kane's pass from the left wing ricocheted off the blade of Brian Gionta's stick.

But O'Reilly's 17th goal tied the score with 4:25 left in the second period. Jake McCabe's hard wrist shot from the blue line deflected off Bernier's glove and the back of O'Reilly's left skate before sliding inside the right post.

"That gave them life," Carlyle said.

Anaheim had a chance to take a 2-1 lead 26 seconds into the final period but an onrushing Ryan Kesler redirected Sami Vatanen's pass from the right boards just wide of the left post. Corey Perry had another chance on a breakaway about nine minutes later but his slap shot from the right circle hit the left post.

Nilsson kept the Ducks from winning in overtime when he used his stick to deflect a wrist shot from the onrushing Jakob Silfverberg into the crowd.

NOTES:

-- Buffalo scratched LW Nicolas Deslauriers and D Justin Falk.

-- Sabres RW Brian Gionta needs four games for 1,000 in his career.

-- Sabres coach Dan Byslma played for the then-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim from 2000-2004.

-- Anaheim scratched G John Gibson, D Korbinian Holzer, RW Ondrej Kase and C Logan Shaw.

-- Ducks LW Nick Ritchie played in his 100th career game.

-- Ducks LW Andrew Cogliano played in his 775th consecutive game. If Cogliano appears Saturday night in San Jose, he would tie Craig Ramsay for fourth place all-time in successive games played.

-- Ducks coach Randy Carlyle needs one victory to tie Hall of Famer Punch Imlach for career victories with 402. Imlach was the Sabres' first coach and served from 1970-72.

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