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Meltdown in Buffalo
Sharks blow 4-1 lead in 3rd period and fall to Sabres
2/7/17 - By Mike Lee -

There are meltdowns, and then there was Tuesday night's game in Buffalo, as the Sharks kicked off a 4-game road trip through the Eastern Conference. San Jose held a 4-1 lead with 11 minutes to play at KeyBank Center, then the wheels fell off. Make that the wheels, doors, motor and seats. Throw in the steering wheel for good measure, because there wasn't a soul in a Sharks jersey steering this train wreck. Buffalo stormed back with three goals over a 3:27 span, then scored the game winner in overtime to stun the Sharks 5-4.

San Jose played a 50 minute game, then crumbled. Ironically, an overturned goal turned out to be bigger than the Sharks expected later in the game.

Timo Meier appeared to score in the 1st period, but referee Kelly Sutherland lost sight of the puck waived the goal off, claiming he had intended to blow his whistle before the puck crossed the goal line. It was a case of a referee not moving his feet to retain sight of the puck and it cost the Sharks.

Matt Moulson staked the Sabres to a 1-0 lead moments later on a power play chance at 7:24 of the period. San Jose shook off their misfortune and put a pair of pucks past Sabres goaltender Anders Nilsson before the first intermission.

Joel Ward tipped a Brent Burns shot from the left point while parked in front of Nilsson. Ward was facing Burns and had his stick blade parallel to the shot. He made enough contact to slip it past Nilsson for the 1-1 tie.

Logan Couture scored his 19th goal of the season 2:37 before the first break by following up on a Mikkel Boedker shot that Nilsson lost track of. Boedker raced up the right wing and ripped a shot from the right dot, hitting Nilsson in the crest. The puck fell to Nilsson's knees. Couture swooped in an stabbed at the puck, pushing it past Nilsson for the 2-1 lead.

Melker Karlsson made it a 3- lead 11:23 into the 2nd period on a one-time chance from the slot. Micheal Haley made the play by winning the puck behind the Sabres net and working it along the end boards, before sliding a pass out to the front of the net, where Karlsson sliced in for the shot that beat Nilsson for his 7th goal of the season.

The Sabres didn't seem to have any fight left in them to start the rd period, and when Joe Pavelski deposited a power play chance at 6:07 of the period, everyone in the building expected 14 minutes of shutdown hockey to run out the clock.

Burns changed all of that when he took a hooking penalty at 8:21. The Sabres had nothing left to do in the game except try and pad some personal stats. Ryan O'Reilly added to his season totals by depositing the puck past Martin Jones at 9:03, aided by the fact that Martin Jones didn't have a stick.

Right before O'Reilly scored, Karlsson tried to throw Jones his stick as it sat perched in the high slot. By virtue of throwing the twig, Karlsson earned another penalty for his attempt to re-arm his teammate.

The Sabres quickly took advantage of the Sharks putrid penalty killing and quickly scored a second goal when Evander Kane beat Tomas Hertl behind the net and wrapped a shot around the right post that was deflected up and past Jones.

The Sharks challenged the play, citing offside on the Sabres, but video replay was deemed inconclusive. It was another review that worked against the Sharks.

Within the blink of an eye, the Sabres were back in the game, and they seized the momentum a minute later when Kyle Okposo tied the contest off the rush. Pavelski's half-hearted attempt to get back left defenseman Justin Braun to try and defend Okposo and and O'Reilly as arc-Edouard Vlasic picked up Sam Reinhart with the puck on the right side. Reinhart made the dish to Okposo on the far side, and Braun couldn't get over to prevent the shot that deflected off the defenseman and past Jones.

Kane ended the game a minute into the overtime period on another rush. Couture was caught too deep in the Sabres zone on a giveaway, which allowed Jack Eichel and Kane to storm up the ice with only Vlasic back to try and stop them. Eichel carried the puck up the right wing, then flipped it to Kane on the left wing for the tap in.

Game Notes:

* With the loss, the Sharks returned to their losing ways in Buffalo. After winning in Western New York last season, they had snapped a long losing streak, only to start a new streak on Tuesday night.

* Tomas Hertl continues to try and nurse his way back to his normal playing pace, but his -3 in the game was evidence that he's still no 100%.

* Joe Pavelski and Timo Meier recorded 6 shots each in the game. Kane topped them both with 7 shots, and added a pair of goals.

* The Sharks finally turn their fortunes around in the faceoff circle, but that proved to be meaningless in the grand scheme of things.





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Scoring
1 2 3 OT T
SJ 2 1 1 0 4
BUF 1 0 3 1 5
1st period - 1, BUF, Moulson 11 (Gionta, Ennis), 7:24, (pp). 2, SJ, Ward 6 (Burns, Martin), 14:03. 3, SJ, Couture 19 (Boedker, Vlasic), 17:13.
2nd period - 4, SJ, Karlsson 7 (Sorensen, Haley), 11:23.
3rd period - 5, SJ, Pavelski 18 (Burns, Marleau), 6:07, (pp). 6, BUF, O'Reilly 11 (Eichel, Ristolainen), 9:03, (pp). 7, BUF, Kane 15 (Franson, Gionta), 11:36. 8, BUF, Okposo 17 (Reinhart, O'Reilly), 12:31.
Overtime - 9, BUF, Kane 16 (Eichel), 1:05.
Penalties
1st period - Thornton, SJ (holding), 5:44.
2nd period - Kulikov, BUF (holding), 2:32; Fedun, BUF (holding), 14:53.
3rd period - Bailey, BUF, high sticking), 4:42; Burns, SJ (hooking), 8:21; Karlsson, SJ (throwing stick), 9:03.
Overtime - None.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 36 31
BUF - Nilsson 40 36
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
SJ 17 14 9 0 40
BUF 10 8 17 1 36
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 3
BUF 2 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
EVander Kane
Ryan O'Reilly
Brent Burns
Attendance
KeyBank Center
Officials
Referees: Sutherland, Joanette. Linesmen: Kovachik, Shewchyk.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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