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Eichel pots OT winner for Buffalo Sabres in 4-3 win over Calgary Flames

CALGARY — Jack Eichel battled through some misfortune to score the overtime winner for the Buffalo Sabres in a 4−3 road win over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.

Seconds after putting a backhand off the post, Buffalo’s captain rifled a low shot past Dave Rittich on the Calgary goaltender’s glove side 70 seconds into OT.

Eichel also rang the puck off the iron in the first minute of the game. He was all alone in front of Rittich with five minutes remaining in the first period, but his shot was over the net.

“Obviously you put a lot of pressure on yourself,” Eichel said. “When things aren’t going well, you want to be one of the guys who makes a difference.

“I think that’s when you start gripping your stick and start thinking about it a little too much. Hopefully that goal can get me going again. It’s just what I needed.”

Jake McCabe, Evan Rodrigues and Rasmus Dahlin also scored for Buffalo (24−17−6), which halted a four−game losing skid.

Buffalo goaltender Linus Ullmark earned the start and the win with 30 saves after relieving Carter Hutton in Monday’s 7−2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

The Sabres scored three goals on a total of three shots in the third and overtime periods.

“When we needed goals we found ways to get them,” Eichel said. “I think as a group, we probably weren’t the most confident after losing 7−2 in Edmonton.

“This is a game we should use moving forward as kind of a building block of what we can do every night to try and give ourselves the best chance to win.”

Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist for Calgary (30−13−5), which snapped a five−game win streak.

Matthew Tkachuk and Noah Hanifin also scored for Calgary with Elias Lindholm contributing a pair of assists.

After winning four straight starts, Rittich had 19 saves in the loss.

“I liked our game. We only gave up two shots in the third,” Flames head coach Bill Peters said. “Special teams were good, two−for−three on the power play and three−for−three on the penalty kill.

“I think we held onto the puck a little too much tonight and tried to force some plays where we had other options available and could have taken what was given.

“We didn’t capitalize on the three−on−one in overtime and they came back the other way and ended it.”

The Flames took their point and continue to tussle with the San Jose Sharks for first in the Pacific Division.

Hanifin’s wrist shot from the top of the face−off circle beat Ullmark stick−side at 11:34 of the third period to make it 3−3.

The Sabres led for the first time in the game at 10:56 when McCabe beat Rittich with a low wrist shot.

Tkachuk’s power−play goal at 6:49 gave Calgary a brief 2−1 lead before Dahlin drew Buffalo even at 7:34.

Dahlin’s shot from the boards deflected off Calgary’s Michael Frolik and weaved between Rittich’s helmet and his glove into the net.

Dahlin, the first overall pick in the 2018 draft, extended his point streak to five straight games with a goal and five assists in that span.

Gaudreau dealt the puck cross−ice to Lindholm, who dished it to Tkachuk in the slot for a re−direct.

Rodrigues pulled the visitors level at 9:45 of the second period. He corralled a stretch pass from Casey Mittelstadt and beat Rittich between the pads on a breakaway.

With just half a second remaining in the opening period, Gaudreau spotted Calgary a 1−0 lead.

While Buffalo’s Jason Pominville served a tripping penalty, a Lindholm slapshot from the boards rebounded to Gaudreau to score the power−play buzzer−beater.

Notes: Gaudreau became the third−fastest player in Flames history to reach the 70−point mark in his 48th game of the season. Kent Nilsson (46 games, 1981) and Bob MacMillan (47, 1979) are the only others to reach that mark as quickly . . .  Calgary defenceman Travis Hamonic (family illness) and forward James Neal (illness) were scratches Wednesday.