Score: Sabres 5 | Canadiens 3
Shots: MTL 32 | BUF 31
Buffalo Sabres Goals: Jeff Skinner (17, 18, 19-PP, 20), Tage Thompson (15-PP)
Montreal Canadiens Goals: Mike Hoffman (8), Jeff Petry (2), Joel Armia (2)
Plus 1 | On the Board First
Following a turnover in the Montreal zone and a pass from Alex Tuch, Casey Fitzgerald set up a nice shot from the blue line, but it was Jeff Skinner who redirected into the home team’s net. Among the Sabres’ many struggles this season is their rare ability to score first, but it was an early goal this afternoon - just four minutes into the opening period - for a quick 1-0 lead. Buffalo desperately needed this little confidence booster after their tough loss against Columbus on Thursday.
Tuch would later assist Skinner’s fourth goal of the game(!), too, to keep him moving at an impressive pace this season. He now has 16 points in 15 games and plays incredibly well when paired with Skinner. Their other line-mate, Tage Thompson, has been doing just fine in this top line as well.
Plus 2 | Party in the USA...Times FOUR!
Though the Habs tied it up early in the second period, Skinner answered back with his second goal of the game and 18th of the season with a nice shot from the faceoff circle. Rasmus Dahlin deserves an honorable mention here for setting up the play nicely with a beautiful pass to a wide open number 53.
Following the second intermission, Skinner made it even more interesting by scoring again and earning a hat trick with one goal in each period. However, the fun did not stop there as he scored yet another goal before the final buzzer.
In his nine games as a Sabre against the Canadiens, Skinner now has nine goals and eight assists. which just reinforces the importance of having him on a top line with more ice time as well as the power play unit (cue deadpan stare to former coach Krueger...). His total ice time today was 17:32 with an assist to go a long with his four goals.
Another fun fact? This was Buffalo’s first four-goal game since, cough, Jack Eichel netted four against Ottawa in 2019.
Final Thoughts | We Won!
As Sabres fans, we have learned to celebrate the very few victories we have had the last few seasons. Plagued by endless injuries and COVID woes, today was a game that Buffalo really needed to change the momentum and boost some confidence. We went three-for-three on the power play and Skinner played out of his mind (with some notable help from friends like Tuch and Dahlin). The only tough pill to swallow is that this game was not at KeyBank Center. Sigh.
Today’s three stars of the game were: Jeff Skinner (obviously), Alex Tuch, and Joel Armia
The Sabres will return home to face the Islanders this Tuesday, February 15. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM on ESPN+.