SAN JOSE, Calif. — Giving up a goal on the first shot to a team that doesn’t squander many leads was not the recipe the Buffalo Sabres wrote heading into the game. They somehow managed to turn it into a winning formula to extend their hex over the San Jose Sharks.
Zach Bogosian scored on a double ricochet with 7:24 remaining in regulation and the Sabres rallied beat the Sharks for the ninth time in 10 meetings, 3-1 on Friday night.
"We didn’t sink our heads down, we didn’t get down and I think we could have against this team the way they’re playing in this building," coach Dan Bylsma said. "We fight back and stay real patient in the game and go stride for stride with them. It showed a lot about our team."
Johan Larsson tied the game in the second period and Evander Kane added an empty-netter to help the Sabres extend their domination over the Sharks by winning for the fifth straight time in San Jose.
Chad Johnson made 24 saves in what could be an audition for the Sharks, who could be seeking to upgrade at backup goalie before Monday's trade deadline.
"It's an uneasy time right now," Johnson said. "You kind of just want to get it over with, to be honest. It's a weird week. I just want to get it over with."
Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored the lone goal for the Sharks, who lost for just the third time in regulation this season in the 30 games that they scored first. Martin Jones made 19 saves as San Jose remained six points behind Pacific Division leader Los Angeles.
With the Sharks controlling the play, the Sabres took advantage of a fortuitous bounce to hand the Sharks a key loss that denied them to chance to close the gap in the division with rivals Anaheim and Los Angeles.
"A couple of their goals take weird bounces and end up in the net," captain Joe Pavelski said. "We had our chances to get ours, but we didn't capitalize."
Bogosian's shot from the point deflected off a pair of Sharks on the way to the net. First it hit Logan Couture's glove, then it deflected off Tomas Hertl's left skate, changed directions and went over Jones' shoulder for the tiebreaking goal.
"Sometimes those ones go in," Bogosian said. "The hockey gods, I guess."
The Sharks put on pressure late in hopes of getting a tying goal with the goalie pulled for the second straight game, but Kane's goal sealed the win for Buffalo.
Coming off a five-game road trip, the Sharks were a little sluggish at the start but still managed to come up with the game's first goal just 1:28 into the game. Matt Nieto carried the puck deep into the offensive zone and fed Vlasic at the top of the faceoff circle. Vlasic then beat Johnson with a wrister to score for the second time this season against the Sabres.
That was one of just six shots on goal for San Jose in the opening period, but the Sharks also allowed no prime scoring chances to Buffalo to maintain the lead.
The game didn't open up much in the second period either, but the Sabres got the equalizer after a defensive zone turnover by Brenden Dillon. Newcomer Roman Polak sent a pass that skipped past Dillon's and went off the boards right to Brian Gionta whose shot trickled past Jones before being tipped in by Larsson just before it crossed the goal line.
"It just goes to show how bad the ice is here on a nightly basis," Vlasic said. "I'm not saying that's the reason why it bounced over his stick. We've been saying the ice is pretty bad, but that was an unlucky bounce."
NOTES: Neither team committed a penalty in the game, the first time that had happened in Sharks history. ... Buffalo played a penalty-free game Nov. 1 against the Islanders.