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Kyle Okposo’s first hat trick since 2016 lifts Sabres over Wings

Dec 29, 2022; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Buffalo Sabres right wing Kyle Okposo (21) celebrates his goal with teammates during the second period against the Detroit Red Wings at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Okposo recorded his third-career hat trick, Casey Mittelstadt scored twice, and the Buffalo Sabres extended their season-high winning streak to five games with a 6-3 victory over the visiting Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.

Jeff Skinner scored for the fifth time in four games, while JJ Peterka, Owen Power and Zemgus Girgensons each had two assists for the Sabres, who were playing for the first time since Dec. 19, after the recent excessive snowfall in western New York postponed two games. Amid a 7-1-1 stretch, Buffalo has outscored its opponents 24-9 in the last five contests.

Detroit overcame a 4-0 hole in Wednesday’s 5-4 overtime win at Pittsburgh, but couldn’t fully rally from 5-0 down Thursday.

However, Dominik Kubalik scored twice in the first 4:23 of the third period to make things interesting. Then, Jordan Oesterle blazed a drive past Buffalo’s Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (28 saves) with 12:49 to go in regulation.

The Sabres, though, clamped down and Okposo added an empty-netter for his first three-goal game since February 2016, while with the New York Islanders.

Buffalo opened the scoring with 4:28 remaining in the first period. Mittelstadt got inside position in front of the Detroit net and converted his first goal since Nov. 19.

The hosts made it 2-0 just 1:20 into the second. On a Buffalo push, Detroit’s Michael Rasmussen and Filip Hronek each got a stick on the puck in its own zone, but it eventually came to Skinner, who beat Magnus Hellberg (29 saves) for his 17th goal.

The Sabres weren’t finished in the second. With 9:32 remaining, Mittelstadt, on the power play, threw back a net-front rebound from Power’s shot that went off a Red Wings’ defender to secure his second career two-goal effort.

Then, less than a minute later, Okposo drove home an end-board pass from Girgensons. Okposo struck again with 5:58 left in the second, when Tyson Jost from behind the net set up the veteran captain.

Buffalo has won all three meetings with Detroit this season.

–Field Level Media