CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Sean Monahan’s overtime goal brought a sense of relief to the Calgary Flames’ locker room.
Monahan scored 2:26 into overtime, giving Calgary its first win of the season, 4-3 over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
The 22-year-old made a nifty move and beat Robin Lehner over his shoulder for his first of the season after being set up alone in front by Johnny Gaudreau.
“Everybody needed that goal, and when I say everybody, probably the fans, the coaches and Mony himself,” said Glen Gulutzan, who earned his first victory as Calgary’s coach.
After dropping back-to-back games in Edmonton and then losing in overtime in Vancouver on Saturday, the Flames had pressure building on a team expected to take a giant step forward in 2016-17.
“When you win, it brings confidence,” Monahan said. “As a group, it’s home ice and the way that we battled back and found a way to win is big for our team.”
Matthew Tkachuk got his first NHL goal, and Michael Frolik and Micheal Ferland also scored for Calgary.
Zemgus Girgensons, Ryan O’Reilly and Marcus Foligno scored for Buffalo.
Calgary trailed 2-1 entering the third period but tied it at 1:10. Foligno’s turnover in his own corner was taken by Ferland, who darted straight to the net and lifted a backhand into the top corner.
Foligno made up for his error on his next shift, with a nifty inside-out move to sidestep Deryk Engelland and then flicking a high shot past Chad Johnson on the glove side.
The Flames got it back to even once more at 4:52 on Tkachuk’s goal. The 18-year-old snapped a shot from off the wing that beat Lehner over his shoulder on the short side.
“Obviously unbelievable,” Tkachuk said. “You dream about scoring in the NHL for a long time. Now that I’ve got the first one out of the way, hopefully we can just keep rolling as a team.”
Tied 1-1 after the first period, O’Reilly put the Sabres into the lead on a power play and via some misfortune for Calgary defenseman Dougie Hamilton.
O’Reilly’s slap shot from the top of the circle was kicked out by the right pad of Johnson but the puck hit Hamilton in his chest and bounced into the net.
“I don’t think there’s many positives to take at all,” O’Reilly said. “Our compete level, our execution was just embarrassing. That’s not the way we want to be. We want to be a consistent team. We have to be a lot better.”
O’Reilly’s goal came shortly after a stretch of nearly 18 minutes in which the Sabres never generated a shot. However, Calgary could not solve Lehner during that stretch, which involved a couple squandered power plays including a 5 on 3.
Johnson made 18 saves for the victory. Lehner had 30 stops in the loss.
Calgary tied the game 1-1 at 16:12 of the first period.
In their first stretch of sustained pressure, the Flames eventually capitalized with Frolik digging out a loose puck lying by the pad of Lehner and sliding in his third goal.
Buffalo opened the scoring at 7:25, taking advantage of a mishandling of the puck by Calgary defenseman TJ Brodie. Tyler Ennis was the beneficiary of the turnover and he zipped a pass in front where Girgenson deflected it into the top corner.
NOTES: Gaudreau was blanked again and has been held to just one assist in four games. … Veteran defensemen Dennis Wideman and Nicklas Grossmann were scratches for the Flames as rookie Brett Kulak got in the line-up again. Wideman and Grossmann have a combined 1,350 games in their NHL career.