OPINION: Sabres find way to earn point in Detroit

Buffalo tied the game late to get it to overtime

(WGR 550) – I mentioned before Friday night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens that the Buffalo Sabres needed to get five or six points out of the next three games. I knew Saturday’s game against the Red Wings in Detroit would be tough, because it was back-to-back and the tail end of five games in seven nights.

Buffalo was tired and without their legs for much of the game, but they somehow found a way to tie the score with Dustin Tokarski pulled and 1:37 left in regulation time.

The Sabres are the worst team in the NHL when it comes to faceoffs, so head coach Don Granato wisely put Cody Eakin out to win the offensive zone draw. Eakin did that, and then got himself in position to rip a one-timer from the right point that Jeff Skinner bunted out of the air to tie it at 2-2. The Sabres had just finished putting on their best pressure of the period.

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Skinner and his linemates, Tage Thompson and Victor Olofsson, weren’t themselves in this game. They just weren’t sharp, but they still came through when it mattered. That might be the first time all season I would have said that about Thompson, who has been stellar this year.

One player that did look good was Dylan Cozens.

Kyle Okposo led a 3-on-2 into the Red WIngs zone, finding Brett Murray coming into the play late. Cozens attacked the net, and Murray put the puck right on his stick for his first NHL point.

Tokarski made 38 saves on the night, and there’s no way Buffalo gets a point out of this game without him. However, he admitted the overtime goal by Lucas Raymond was on him.

“I saw it the whole way. I think it’s just one of those ones that I should’ve saved it," Tokarski said after the loss. "I know probably for a fact that’s not where he was shooting, so he took something off it and handcuffed me and it slid through. It should’ve been a save.”

In his last three games, Tokarski has stopped 87 of 92 shots for a .946 save percentage.

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On Detroit’s second goal, Givani Smith was tied up with Rasmus Dahlin. Smith was touching Tokarski as the puck went in, but just barely. The goal was the Red Wings' second in 1:19, and had Granato challenged the play and lost, Detroit would’ve gotten a power play with a chance to go up 3-1.

With all that in mind, Granato wanted that decision back.

“I told the team I apologize, that’s a mistake. I should’ve made the call," Granato admitted after the game. "I didn’t have good enough video on the bench. We had some trouble with it, but you would’ve run the risk of having to kill a penalty. If you give up a goal, it’s a different game. But after the fact, it should’ve been called and I don’t have anybody to blame, but myself.”

The Sabres bench having video that flickers is on the Red Wings, and it should be dealt with by the NHL. Of course, we all know it won’t be, but that’s another topic.

The Sabres get a day of rest on Sunday before the Seattle Kraken come to town for the first time ever on Monday night.

Seattle had been floundering for most of the month, but this week they beat the Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers all by a combined score of 11-4.

***Photo: Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres)

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