Jake Neighbours and Braydon Schenn had two goals apiece as the St. Louis Blues defeated the Buffalo Sabres 6-4 tonight. The Sabres spotted the Blues an early 3-0 lead only to come back and tie the game midway through the second period. But a pair of defensive mistakes led to St. Louis goals within a 24 second span to put the Blues in the lead for good.
The Sabres, who outshot the Blues 45-20 in the game, got goals from Rasmus Dahlin, Zach Benson, Peyton Krebs and JJ Peterka.
- I feel like I’ve written these words before, but this was a game the Sabres should have won. Outshooting your opponent 45-20 should get you the win on most nights. So should scoring 4 goals. Tonight, it didn’t for a variety of reasons.
- The main reason for the loss is defensive mistakes that ended up in the net. Samuelsson losing the puck on the 4th Blues goal. Power giving up a 2-on-0 on the 6th goal. Two clean defensive zone faceoff losses in the first period to put the Blues up 2-0. The Blues scored on almost every dangerous chance they had. You can’t give up 6 goals and expect anything but a loss.
- Do I blame UPL for this loss? Well, let’s put it this way. Grant Fuhr once said, “there are always two mistakes on every goal and the second one was mine.” So, UPL clearly has to bear some of the responsibility tonight. Not all of it, but a good portion. And I say that as a goalie myself.
- Don’t get me wrong, I’m not down on UPL, but it wasn’t his game tonight. He has been exceptional this season, like the game on Monday and I think he’s earned the #1 job.
- Consistency of effort is what GM Kevyn Adams spoke about in his press conference yesterday. The effort was certainly there tonight and the optimist in me says that if they continue to play with that level of effort, they will win a lot of games.
- Nice to see former #1 pick Pierre Turgeon in the opening ceremonies. Turgeon was a great player, not just for the Sabres, but for the Blues, Islanders, Stars and Canadiens as well.
- With the loss tonight, the Sabres fell below .500 again to 10-11-2, 6th in their division.
The Sabres made several roster moves in the last few days. Devon Levi was loaned to Rochester along with Jiri Kulich. Brandon Biro was called up (although he did not play tonight) and Jordan Greenway returned to the lineup. Connor Clifton was a healthy scratch for the first time this season.
Jeff Skinner– Casey Mittelstadt – Alex Tuch
JJ Peterka – Dylan Cozens – Zach Benson
Jordan Greenway – Peyton Krebs – Kyle Okposo
Isak Rosen – Tyson Jost – Victor Olofsson
Rasmus Dahlin – Mattias Samuelsson
Owen Power – Henri Jokiharju
Ryan Johnson – Erik Johnson
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (UPL)
Rough start for UPL
After a great stop by UPL to start the game, the Blues opened the scoring right off that faceoff at 1:08. The Blues won the faceoff and Brandon Saad fired a wrist shot the eluded UPL. Maybe a bit of a screen or UPL just misread the shot.
On the first Blues powerplay, they doubled their lead to 2-0 after just six seconds of the man advantage. Braydon Schenn’s shot beat UPL cleanly over the left shoulder and off the crossbar.
Jake Neighbors made it 3-0 at 10:59. UPL made the first stop on the shot from the point but left the rebound right in the crease. Neighbors tapped it in for his 8th of the year.
The Sabres got one back at 13:32 on a blast from Rasmus Dahlin. He one-timed a pass from Kyle Okposo, beating a partially screen Jordan Binnington through the legs. It was Dahlin’s 5th of the season. Peyton Krebs also assisted on the goal.
Ugly start for UPL and the Sabres, although the team had the better part of the play in the period. Shots were 15-8 Buffalo.
It was looking good until…
Zach Benson cut the lead to 3-2 at 6:10. Dylan Cozens won the faceoff to Binnington’s left and the puck went to Benson, who spun and shot in one motion. His shot along the ice beat Binnington between the legs. It was his 2nd of the season.
The Sabres continued to press and they tied it up at 10:53 on a goal by Peyton Krebs. He picked up a rebound off a Dahlin shot from the blueline, beating Binnington fivehole. Dahlin and Greenway with the assists.
But the Blues re-took the lead at 13:04 as Kevin Hayes tapped in a cross-crease pass from Kyrou. Not much for UPL to do there.
The Blues doubled their lead 24 seconds later at 13:28 on the second of the night from Schenn. On this one, I think UPL overplayed the initial rush.
Shots were 16-6 Buffalo in the period.
Not enough in the third
Another mistake led to another Blues odd-man rush early in the third. As the Sabres pressed in the Blues end, Owen Power tried to keep the puck in at the blueline, but the puck got past him. Seconds later, Neighbours was popping his second of the night past UPL on a 2-on-0 break at 4:38.
The Sabres pulled UPL with 4:30 to play.
JJ Peterka cut the lead to 6-4 with 3:18 to go as the Sabres scrambled around Binnington’s net. It was Peterka’s 10th of the season, assisted by Benson and Cozens.
Shots were 14-6 Buffalo in the third and 45-20 for the game.