Marleau scores to seal Sharks’ 2-1 OT win over Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Aware of San Jose’s decade-long jinx in Buffalo, first-year coach Peter DeBoer joked before the game that the Sharks had never lost to the Sabres with him behind the bench.
Now he’s 1-0. Patrick Marleau converted a rebound to score 2:59 into overtime and seal a 2-1 victory over the Sabres on Saturday night.
“That’s a big weight to carry around 10 years,” said DeBoer, who learned of the Sharks’ longtime struggles against the Sabres shortly after the team arrived in Buffalo. “I accidentally dug into it because everyone was talking about it. I knew we hadn’t had much success against Buffalo recently, but I didn’t realize it was as long as it has been.”
The Sharks won for just the second time in 18 visits to Buffalo in their 25-year history — the first was a 5-0 win on Dec. 2, 2005. They also snapped an 0-7-1 skid against the Sabres that dates to a 5-2 win at San Jose on Jan. 23, 2010.
“Feels good,” said Marleau, an 18-year Sharks veteran. “Hopefully, we can get 10 in a row now.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic had a goal and assist, goalie Martin Jones stopped 30 shots and San Jose improved to 2-0 in opening a six-game road trip following a 3-2 victory at Detroit on Friday night.
Marleau’s goal came during a scramble inside the Sabres’ zone and shortly after he nearly jammed a loose puck inside the right post.
Sharks center Tomas Hertl got to the rebound and worked the puck to Vlasic in the high slot. Vlasic’s shot bounced off the right post and caromed to the left of the net. Marleau reached out to corral the puck and snapped it into the open side.
The Sabres had a three-game win streak snapped and squandered a chance to have a winning record for the first time since opening the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season at 2-1.
Buffalo fell behind 1-0 on Vlasic’s power-play goal 1:48 in and struggled to generate much momentum until the third period, when Ryan O’Reilly tied the game with 13:13 left in regulation.
The Sabres power-play unit went 0 for 3 and mustered just three shots during a two-man advantage in the first period that spanned 1:26.
“It was a real big part of the game,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “Any time you get a 5-on-3 for that long a period of time, you feel like it should be 100 percent cashing in. And we didn’t get a lot of looks at the net.”
Tyler Ennis had a solid opportunity on the Sabres’ third power-play chance in the final minute of the first period. Driving up the left wing, Ennis made a nifty move in stepping into the middle, where he got off a hard snapshot only to be stopped by Jones’ tremendous glove save.
Jones stopped 12 of 13 shots he faced in the final period, including a clutch stop with 2.3 seconds left to preserve the tie. Buffalo’s Jack Eichel zoomed up the left wing and got a shot off while driving to the net. The rebound bounced into the slot, where Marleau accidently kicked it toward his own net, only to have it stopped by Jones, who then covered the puck with his blocker hand.
“That’s as well as I’ve seen him play,” DeBoer said of Jones, who stopped 26 shots in beating Detroit. “I thought he was excellent. We needed him to be our best player.”
The Sharks converted one of three power-play opportunities to snap a six-game drought. San Jose has scored just six power-play goals this season — all of them on the road.
NOTES: Sharks captain Joe Pavelski earned his 500th career point with an assist on Vlasic’s goal. ... Bylsma said D Mike Weber will miss between two and six weeks after having knee surgery on Friday. ... Sabres D Zach Bogosian has been cleared for practice after being sidelined since training camp with a lower body injury. ... Linesman Scott Driscoll was joined by his family at center and honored before officiating his 1,500th career game.