Flames captain Mark Giordano was thoroughly impressed with how Calgary rallied rather than unraveled.
Following two-plus days of facing questions regarding the uncertain status of coach Bill Peters, the Flames showed no signs of being distracted with Elias Lindholm scoring on a wraparound 1:17 into overtime of a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
“It’s a four-game trip that’s had a lot of adversity,” Giordano said. “I think guys, what we did as players, we said to one another this is almost a way to get away from everything off the ice right now by playing games, practicing. And I thought we did a good job of that.”
Peters has been accused of using racist slurs against Nigerian-born player Akim Aliu 10 years ago while the two were in the minors. And Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour earlier Wednesday backed another former player’s allegation that Peters kicked and punched players on the bench during his previous four years coaching Carolina.
Following the game, Flames general manager Brad Treliving confirmed he received a letter of apology from Peters, in which the coach acknowledged using offensive language in dealing with Aliu. The letter was initially obtained and posted on Twitter during the third period by TSN, a Canadian sports cable network.
Without specifically referencing the words he used, Peters said his comments to Aliu were the source of both anger and disappointment. He added, the incident was made in a “moment of frustration and does not reflect my personal values.”
Peters says he regretted the incident and apologizes to anyone negatively affected by it.
The letter was released while Peters is away from the team while the Flames and the NHL conduct an investigation into the matter.
Matthew Tkachuk scored 4:02 into the third period to force overtime by tying the game at 2 a little over two minutes after Victor Olofsson scored for Buffalo.
Tkachuk then set up Lindholm’s overtime goal as Calgary improved to 2-0-1 in its past three and closed a four-game road trip that began with a 5-0 loss at St. Louis.
“It’s huge. Obviously, a lot of things going on right now. We can only affect what’s going on out on the ice,” Lindholm said. “We got the two points at the end, and that’s all that matters.”
TJ Brodie also had a goal and assist, and David Rittich stopped 34 shots with associate coach Geoff Ward behind the bench.
Jimmy Vesey also scored for the Sabres who dropped to 2-8-3 in their past 13 — and after getting off to a 9-2-1 start to the season. Linus Ullmark made 26 saves.
“It’s definitely frustrating, the final result,” first-year Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said.
“We definitely had the chances to put it away after 2-1, and the inability to do that and then have a D-zone breakdown to allow them back into the game is really, really disappointing,” Krueger added. “It’s a painful situation that we have to manage and use in the right way.”
The game was decided when Tkachuk beat a Sabres defender to the puck deep in Buffalo’s zone and slid a pass behind the net to Lindholm.
Lindholm came out untouched at the right post and circled atop the crease before scoring inside the opposite post.
Brodie’s goal with 2:55 left in the opening period came in his second game two weeks after experiencing a frightening moment in practice when he began convulsing after falling to the ice. A series of neurological tests came back negative and the 29-year-old play-making defenceman was cleared to return in a 3-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Monday.
Despite the win, the Flames continued their offensive struggles in scoring two or fewer goals in regulation for the ninth consecutive game. It’s a stretch in which Calgary has been out-scored 30-12 and shut out three times.
Sabres D Rasmus Dahlin is out indefinitely after sustaining a concussion in being elbowed in the face by Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak in 5-2 loss Monday. ... Calgary played its 17th road game, tying Minnesota for the most so far this season. ... Sabres forward Marcus Johansson returned after missing seven games with an upper body injury.
Flames: Open a three-game homestand hosting Ottawa on Saturday.
Sabres: Host Toronto on Friday.