Jeff Skinner scores in OT as Sabres beat Blue Jackets without coach Don Granato

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Jeff Skinner scored 1:20 into overtime, and the Buffalo Sabres beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Saturday without coach Don Granato because of an illness.

Casey Mittelstadt and Jack Quinn also scored for Buffalo, which had dropped two in a row. Owen Power had two assists and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 18 saves.

Granato missed the game due to an unspecified illness. Seth Appert, who coaches the Sabres’ AHL affiliate in Rochester, was called up to fill in behind the bench.

Buffalo Sabres interim head coach Seth Appert, top center, reacts during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Granato is unlikely to rejoin the team in time for Sunday night’s game at Ottawa, general manager Kevyn Adams said, but the team hopes he’ll return to health during a three-day break following the matchup with the Senators.

Adam Fantilli and Damon Severson scored for Columbus, and Daniil Tarasov made 39 saves. Coming off a 6-5 overtime win against Toronto on Friday night, the Blue Jackets lost for the fourth time in five games.

Skinner scored his team-leading 15th goal on a slap shot. He has five goals and three assists in his last nine games.

Buffalo tied the game when rookie Zach Benson set up Mittelstadt in the right circle for his 10th goal of the season with 8:08 left in regulation.

Fantilli gave Columbus a 2-1 lead with his 11th goal with 6:15 left in the second period. Justin Danforth created the scoring chance, spinning to his backhand to pass the puck behind Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin and set up Fantilli on the rush seven seconds after the Blue Jackets killed Fantilli’s penalty for hooking.

The 19-year-old Fantilli also scored during the victory over the Maple Leafs. He has seven goals and six assists in his last 14 games.

Quinn tied it at 1 for Buffalo when he knocked in a rebound 40 seconds into the second, after Severson followed his own shot in the high slot to put Columbus in front late in the first.

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