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Recap: Sabres beat Blues in solid showing

Buffalo wins third on the the trot, ends streak of futility against St. Louis

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Buffalo Sabres
Ryan O’Reilly scores the gamewinner
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan O’Reilly scored the gamewinner on a 5-on-3 powerplay late in the second period as the Buffalo Sabres finally solved the St. Louis Blues to win 3-2 at the KeyBank Center earlier today.

Earlier in the day the Sabres had waived Taylor Fedun as Cody Franson returned to the team. Fedun has no goals and seven assists in 25 games for Buffalo this season. Nick Baptiste also had the call-up from Rochester after Sam Reinhart was laid low by the flu bug, likely the same one that had Evander Kane down earlier this week.

The Blues are an elite team this season, and proved it early today as the Sabres were still groggy when the visitors pounced eaarly with a goal from Vladimir Tarasenko on a delayed penalty. Baptiste, still getting used to his role on the Sabres’ second line, completely lost his man and left one of the NHL’s deadliest snipers all alone to score.

‘Bappers’ made up for his earlier mistake by scoring the Sabres equalizer late in the period. Jack Eichel, who had an excellent game all around, ripped through the heart of the Blues, before setting up Baptiste to score with a neat finish.

The second period has been Buffalo’s Achilles heel all season long, but this afternoon it turned out to be their strongest period of the game as they scored twice to seal the win.

Baptiste had shown some hustle in the Blues zone and fed Zach Bogosian at the blue line and Evander Kane tipped in his floater to put Buffalo ahead with eight minutes gone.

Eichel then drew a penalty with just a couple of minutes left in the second, and then Scottie Upshall hooked O’Reilly during the power play to give Buffalo a two-man advantage with seconds left in the period. The League’s top power play unit needed no second bidding to score again.

Buffalo hung in there in the third, with Robin Lehner foiling the visitors time and again until eternal pest Upshall scored a short-handed goal late on to make the last few minutes more exciting than it really needed to be. The Sabres almost had Lehner face 40-plus shots yet again as the visitors finished with 39 on the day.

After matching the Blues on shots for the first two periods, Buffalo saw St. Louis pull away 17-7 in the last period with two goals to make up. The much-maligned penalty kill unit redeemed themselves going 0/3 while the power play scored once to finish 1/6 on the day. The home side were the more energetic, with a 8 to 1 advantage in takeaways.

Three Questions

1. Can the Sabres make it three wins in a row?

They did! Wow! Can they make it four tomorrow against the Blackhawks now?

2. Will Kane and Kulikov play?

Both did. Kane showed once again why he’s one of the hottest properties in the NHL with another 5-on-5 goal for his twentieth of the season. Kulikov went 21+ minutes of icetime, finishing up -1 with 1 shot on goal.

3. Is Rodrigues the third-line center of the future?

E-Rod had just over 13 minutes TOI, with one takeway. He wasn’t spectacular when the Sabres were in possession, but was decent enough without.

Comment of the Game

Praise for the Rayz! Commentor jamroy27 killed it twice today, his first comment wins the award though the other was a close second.

A lot of people have commented on this lately

but Rob Ray really is on another level this year, making good observations, joking around, it’s night and day from when he first started. Favorite moment was when he said something along the lines of the Sabres job is to hate the Bruins, so he and Jeanneret’s job should be to hate the bruins announcers, which shouldn’t be too hard to do. I used to go to a lot of games as a kid and got to go down and meet some of the players a couple times and I remember that Ray was the most friendly guy on the team, remembered my family and I and always took the time to stick around and talk to fans, glad to have him around still and also have been digging the games with Biron as well.

Posted by jamroy27