BUFFALO, NY (AP) – Casey Mittelstadt scored 2:07 into overtime to give the Buffalo Sabers a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night in the last game for two non-playoff teams.
Tage Thompson scored his 38th goal for the Sabres, and defenseman Owen Power, the first pick in the 2021 draft, added his second goal in eight NHL games.
Buffalo (32-40) earned its fifth win in six games to cap its 12th straight season missing the playoffs, an NHL record. Dustin Tokarski made 19 saves.
Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome scored for the Blackhawks (28-42). Collin Delia stopped 33 shots.
Chicago snapped a two-game winning streak to wrap up a disappointing season. The Blackhawks finished 14th in the Western Conference with their lowest point percentage (.415) in 16 seasons. It’s the fourth time in five seasons the Blackhawks haven’t made the playoffs after winning three Stanley Cups from 2010 to 2015.
This season was clouded by the resignation of general manager and president of hockey operations Stan Bowman in October after a report by an outside law firm revealed that the organization mishandled allegations that an assistant coach allegedly sexually assaulted a player during the team’s run for the Stanley Cup in 2010.
Despite finishing 13th in the Eastern Conference and extending their playoff drought, the Sabers saw several young players develop and ended up with a 16-9-3 record in the last two months of the season.
Mittelstadt grabbed the rebound from Dylan Cozens’ shot for the game-winning goal, his sixth of the season.
Rookie defenseman Alex Vlasic got his first NHL assist on the Blackhawks’ first goal at 9:47 of the second period.
Many in the crowd of 16,505 — the second-largest in Buffalo this season — clung on after the final horn to give a long standing ovation to Sabers broadcaster Rick Jeanneret, who is retiring after 51 years.
Jeanneret addressed the crowd via the video scoreboard before taking to the ice to greet Sabers players and fans.
The Sabers raised a banner to honor Jeanneret before the only sold-out game this season at KeyBank Center on April 1. The 79-year-old has been on Sabers radio and TV shows since 1971-72, the Second Season franchise. He earned the NHL’s highest broadcast honor in 2012, after winning the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.
Sabers goalie Craig Anderson and forward Kyle Okposo were held off with undisclosed injuries. Okposo, whose 21 goals this season was his best in six seasons with Buffalo, was honored before the game for winning the Rick Martin Memorial Award voted for by Sabers fans. Anderson, 40, went 17-12-2 in his first year with the Sabres, his sixth team in 19 NHL seasons. It’s his best record since going 25-11-4 with Ottawa in 2016-17.
Injured Sabers goaltender Malcolm Subban, a former Blackhawk, sang the national anthem before the game. … Blackhawks defenseman Jake McCabe received brief recognition on the video scoreboard in his first game at Buffalo since signing a four-year contract with Chicago in the offseason. McCabe played 353 games in eight seasons with the Sabres.