The Buffalo Sabres played their most complete game of the season, building off a 26-save stellar performance from Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (UPL) to defeat the Rangers 5-1 tonight in New York. Alex Tuch scored twice, including the game winner, and Casey Mittelstadt had a three-point night (1 goal, 2 assists) for the Sabres, who rebounded nicely from their loss in New Jersey on Saturday.
The Sabres also got goals from JJ Peterka and Kyle Okposo, who has now scored in three consecutive games. Mika Zibanejad scored the lone goal for the home team.
- Now THAT was a solid effort from the entire team tonight. UPL was fantastic, making the big stops when the team needed them. I loved that they outshot the Rangers 17-3 in the third period… no collapsing into a defensive shell tonight.
- UPL has been stellar this season and I think it’s time to let him carry the load for the team. With the next game being Thursday, he’ll have plenty of rest, so I think he should get the next start. We’re at a point in the season when the team needs to pile up some points; play the goalie who gives you the best chance to win. Right now, that’s UPL.
- I’ve been a harsh critic of Victor Olofsson, but he has been really good since he came back into the lineup. He was even making strong defensive plays! If he can keep this level of play up, plus find his scoring touch on the powerplay, he could be a lethal weapon for this team. He registered two assists tonight.
- Tonight, IMO, was Zach Benson’s best game this season. He was involved in a lot of plays in the offensive zone and was responsible defensively too. He didn’t get any points, but his chemistry with JJ Peterka was noticeable tonight.
- It was another 11-7 night for the Sabres. I know a lot of people hate it, but it has worked for the Sabres. Every one of their seven defensemen had a positive rating tonight!
- This was the second meeting of the season between the Sabres and Rangers. In the season opener on October 12, the Rangers won 5-1.
- With the win tonight, the Sabres return to .500 at 10-10-2, 6th in their division.
This was another 11-7 night for the Sabres. Jiri Kulich watched from the press box while Henri Jokiharju came back into the lineup.
Jeff Skinner– Casey Mittelstadt – Alex Tuch
JJ Peterka – Dylan Cozens – Zach Benson
Victor Olofsson – Tyson Jost – Isak Rosen
Peyton Krebs – Kyle Okposo
Rasmus Dahlin – Mattias Samuelsson
Owen Power – Ryan Johnson
Connor Clifton – Erik Johnson
Some good pressure by the Sabres in the early going. Jeff Skinner. Alex Tuch and Zach Benson all had decent opportunities, but Igor Shesterkin made some nice stops for the Rangers.
The Sabres killed off a Rangers powerplay midway through the period. The Rangers did put the puck in the net just as the penalty finished, but it was waived off on the ice because of a hand pass.
JJ Peterka opened the scoring at 11:41 after Owen Power kept a clearing attempt in the zone. Power’s shot was blocked, but Victor Olofsson tapped it back to Peterka, who beat Shesterkin with a quick wrist shot.
UPL made a few nice stops, including one huge one on a one-timer with 1:00 to go.
Very good period overall for the Sabres. Shots were 12-9 for New York.
Another good period for the Sabres
The Sabres had a powerplay chance five minutes into the period. They had some good puck possession in the Rangers zone but no success in beating Shesterkin.
Several more solid stops from UPL to keep the Sabres in the lead.
Alex Tuch doubled the Sabres lead with 26 seconds to go on a rebound from the slot. Dahlin held the puck in along the boards and passed cross ice to Casey Mittelstadt, who took a shot that was stopped by Shesterkin. Tuch muscled his way past the defense and wristed his shot past the goalie.
Another really solid period from the Sabres, although the Rangers carried more of the play than they did in the first period.
Shots were 13-11 for Buffalo.
Keep pressing in the third
Holy moly what a stop by UPL on Jimmy Vesey almost 4 minutes into the period!!
Zach Benson was given a really questionable cross-checking penalty, and what usually happens on lousy penalties happened this time. The Rangers wasted very little time breaking UPL’s shutout bid on a one-timed slapper from Mika Zibanejad at 8:08.
I noticed the Sabres starting to go into a more defensive posture with about 7 minutes to go. This is not their usual style of play, but one they’ll have to master if they’re going to be successful.
Then, as the Rangers tried to open things up, the Sabres extended their lead to 3-1 at 15:31 on a the second of the night by Alex Tuch. Great work by Mittelstadt along the boards and with the pass to find Tuch in the slot. Tuch’s wrist shot seemed to deflect off the Rangers defenseman’s stick before it beat Shesterkin on the glove side.
The Rangers pulled their goalie with 2:10 left, but Casey Mittelstadt sealed the deal for the Sabres with an empty net goal at 18:29.
Kyle Okposo capped it off with a goal at 19:53 to make it 5-1… the same score the Rangers beat the Sabres in the first game of the season. Okposo one-timed a cross-ice pass from Jokiharju.
Shots in the third 17-3 for Buffalo in the period and 39-26 in the game.