The Wraparound: Sabres 4, Sharks 3
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Sabres are heading back to Buffalo with another winning streak.
Zemgus Girgensons capped a wild third period Saturday night with a goal at 12:15 and the Sabres held on to beat the San Jose Sharks, 4-3, inside SAP Center. Buffalo (7-1-1) won its final two games on the West Coast road trip and is again tied for first place in the National Hockey League with 15 points.
San Jose (3-5) tied the score twice in a span of 2:16 in the third period, only to watch Girgensons retrieve a loose puck and shoot into the corner of the net. Girgenson's line -- which also includes Johan Larsson and Kyle Okposo -- has combined for three goals among 10 points in nine games.
Opening salvo: The Sabres broke the scoreless tie at 12:10 into the first period, when Henri Jokiharju left a drop pass for Marcus Johansson, whose wrist shot beat Martin Jones for a 1-0 lead. Buffalo has scored the first goal in eight of nine games this season and it has received at least one point from 18 of the 19 players to appear in a game.
Second chance: San Jose's first shot attempt on its first power play hit the post. The Sharks didn't miss with their second opportunity. Center Joe Thornton carried the puck below the goal line near the left corner to draw Jokiharju out of position. That created room for Timo Meier to corral a pass in the left circle and fire a shot into the net to tie the score 16 minutes into the game.
The Sabres out-shot the Sharks, 10-8, in the first period but San Jose had more shot attempts and appeared to possess the puck more.
Punchless power play: The cold streak had to come eventually, right? The Sabres' power play was producing at an unprecedented level, scoring eight times in the first four games of the season. However, they were 3-for-16 over their following four games and those struggles continued Saturday.
Like the Sabres' two previous opponents, the Sharks pressured Rasmus Dahlin, Victor Olofsson and Jack Eichel. That strategy forces one of the three to try to get the puck to Sam Reinhart or Jeff Skinner near the net.
Reinhart had a scoring opportunity during the Sabres' first power play Saturday, but he was unable to fight through traffic to get to a loose puck in front of the net. Olofsson's chance from the slot was blocked on the second power play.
Good goal: The crowd inside SAP Center turned on the officials after what occurred in the second period. Casey Mittelstadt deflected Henri Jokiharju's shot into the net at 17:03. The goal light came on and it was signaled a goal, yet the officials overturned the call upon conferencing near the Sabres' penalty box.
The play was then reviewed and, finally, ruled a goal. Mittelstadt has scored three times in two games and has six points in nine games this season. Jokiharju, meanwhile, recorded his first multi-point game with the Sabres, who have a plus-9 goal differential in the second period this season.
Skate connection: San Jose tied the score, 2-2, on the power play 44 seconds into the third period when Erik Karlsson's shot caromed off Rasmus Ristolainen's skate and into the net. Hertl was credited with the goal. It was the second time this season the Sabres have allowed multiple power-play goals.
Quick response: Jake McCabe didn't need to touch the puck with his stick to get credited with an assist on the Sabres' third goal. McCabe used his body to keep the puck near the net, and Jeff Skinner shot it into the net for a 3-2 lead at 2:28 into the third period.
Twenty-two seconds: That's all the Sharks would need to tie the score again. Brent Burns' shot from the point caromed off Marcus Sorensen's skate and past Linus Ullmark.
Lineup: Forward Evan Rodrigues and defenseman John Gilmour were the Sabres' healthy scratches. Carter Hutton did not start despite owning a .945 save percentage in his career against the Sharks. Hutton had also recorded back to back shutouts and entered play Saturday with a league-best .
Next: The Sabres practice Monday and host the Sharks in KeyBank Center on Tuesday night. This is the two teams' first home-and-home series and Buffalo's first against a Western Conference opponent since November 1996.
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