Duck Season, Fire!

Sabres put on an offensive clinic on Kids Day

Score: Ducks 3 | Sabres 6

Shots: ANA 37 | BUF 39

Buffalo Sabres Goals:

1)    Cozens (Dahlin, Lyubushkin)

2)    Skinner (Tuch, Thompson)

3)    Krebs (Dahlin, Okposo)

4)    Olofsson (Lyubushkin)

5)    Olofsson (Jost, Power)

6)    Krebs (Tuch, Lyubushkin)

Anaheim Ducks:

1)    Zegras (Strome, Comtois)

2)    Zegras (Beaulieu)

3)    Benoit (Zegras, Henrique)

Plus 1: Mr. Krebs Can Feel It Now

Raise your hand if you had this on your bingo card at the start of the year: Peyton Krebs has the most fighting majors on the Sabres. Anyone…Bueller? Well, here we are. Krebs has embraced his role as a bottom 6 forward and is finding success. With his second fight of the season, we are starting to see a fearlessness that is bleeding over to other aspects of his game. He excels on the forecheck and is slowly integrating his exceptional offensive zone vision and instincts. Against the Ducks, he was able to notch his 5th and 6th goals of the season. His first of the day came by crashing the net after Dahlin made a nice move to create the net-front scrum. His second was a great shot from the high slot. His fighting technique could use some refining, but his proximity to a Gordie Howe Hat Trick and a traditional Hat Trick in the same game isn’t bad for an afternoon’s work.

Minus 1: Bottom Feeder Struggles

When attempting to stay in a playoff race, there are certain teams you cannot lose to. Unfortunately, the Sabres have made a habit of playing down to their opponents. Twice in the last 3 games, Buffalo has blown 2 goal leads to a bottom 3 opponent. It is a symptom of a young team that seems to struggle to get up for games against inferior opponents. This is a trend that needs to end if the Sabres want to make a meaningful push for a playoff spot. Fortunately, it did not become costly against the Ducks. Hopefully, they can replicate their dominate 1st and 3rd periods form this game and reduce the sloppy 2nd period play that gave the Ducks a chance heading into the final frame.

Plus 2: Third Line Emergence

Buffalo’s third line has two of the most polarizing players on the team. Casey Mittelstadt and Victor Olofsson have put Sabre fans on a rollercoaster of emotions. Particularly early in the season, the duo’s production was almost entirely dependent on power play success. However, they have found some traction with center Tyson Jost who continues to prove that he was well worth the waiver claim. This game was a perfect example of what Buffalo’s offense can be if their 3rd line can contribute on the scoreboard. Olofsson scored the eventual game winner off a great pass by Lyubushkin early in the 3rd and added another five minutes later for some insurance. Beyond the offensive production, the trio was able to keep offensive zone pressure on with well executed cycles and a tenacious forecheck. On a rare day when Tage Thompson struggled offensively, the Sabres’ supporting cast came up clutch.

Final Thoughts

Although the back half of the second period was less than ideal, Buffalo took care of business against an inferior opponent and provided a great offensive performance in front of many young fans. Dylan Cozens’ opening tally set the tone for the skill Sabre players would showcase throughout the game. Although defensive coverage left much to be desired and UPL had a couple of rough moments, Buffalo skaters were able to generate plenty of offensive chances with nearly 40 shots. Even notoriously defensive defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin had a career offensive day. He had a career high three assists including the excellent 2 on 1 pass to Olofsson for the game winner. Looking forward, Monday begins a week full of central division foes as they travel to Dallas, St. Louis, Winnipeg, and Minnesota to wrap up their January schedule. Hopefully, the team will be flying to Dallas on the heels of a “Won Buffalo” weekend. Go Bills!