Buffalo Beats Colorado Despite Depleted D

<em>Avs outshoot the visitors, but Sabres pull off the win</em>

Score: Sabres 4, Avalanche 2

Shots: Buffalo: 21 Colorado: 41

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Tage Thompson (24), Alex Tuch (15), Rasmus Dahlin (10), Dylan Cozens (11)

Colorado Avalanche Goals: Mikko Ratanen (20), Evan Rodrigues (7)

Plus 1: TNT Explodes Again

Tage Thompson continues to be an offensive leader, opening the scoring with a goal thanks to assists from Mittelstadt and Clague just 54 seconds into the first period. It was Thompson’s 24th this season and it’s only December.

Last year, TNT only scored 38 goals and he’s already more than halfway there before Christmas. If he keeps this up, he’ll break all kinds of records. Let’s hope he keeps blowing things up on the ice.

Plus 2: Tuch Gets Puck on the PP

Not to be outdone, Alex Tuch scored the Sabres’ second goal of the night 7:08 into the first on a Colorado too many men on the ice penalty. Buffalo is improving on power play scoring and it was great to watch Tuch take charge with the man advantage to widen the Sabres’ lead to 2.

Tuch is on par to match his numbers from last season, when he only got 12 goals in his first few months in Buffalo. No. 89 boasts 15 goals and 16 assists in just 30 games in 2022-23. Tuch keeps showing why he’s one of Buffalo best acquisitions. Scoring on the PP made it all the sweeter.

Plus 3: Dahlin Drives it in with Help from Jost

After Buffalo scored two unanswered goals in the first period, Rasmus Dahlin got a wrist shot past Avs goaltender Alexandar Georgiev 2:49 left in the second with assists from Tyson Jost and Victor Olofsson. The puck bounced from post to post across the net and happened so fast the refs didn’t see it immediately.

Eagercolin had the Comment of the Game: “Jost is like finding $10 on the sidewalk.” Jost set up Dahlin’s goal with strong pressure to give the offensive-minded defenseman the opportunity to make it 3-0 Sabres. No. 17 is also proving his worth as another one of Buffalo’s best recent additions.

Plus 4: Cozens Closes it Out

After getting into a three-goal hole in the first two periods, Colorado turned up the pressure during the last 20 minutes, outshooting the Sabres 17 to 1 and scoring two goals in 10 minutes. The Avs pulled their goaltender with less than three minutes to go and it looked like the Sabres would blow another lead in the final period.

Thankfully, Dylan Cozens rode to the rescue. The workhorse from Whitehorse got an empty netter with 58 seconds left to give the Sabres a two-goal lead and dash the Avs’ comeback hopes.

Plus 5: UPL Plays a Solid Game

Sabres backup goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has his share of detractors and the young netminder suffered through some bad losses recently. In this game, however, he was outstanding. Luukkonen stopped 39 of 41 shots and didn’t let a puck get past him until well into the third period.

While it’s too soon to say if he’s Buffalo’s future starting goaltender, UPL played incredibly well against a defending Stanley Cup champion team at home. It’s true the Avalanche are suffering from plenty of injuries, but that didn’t stop them from testing Luukkonen like they were down three games in the playoffs. UPL deserves accolades for keeping Colorado’s scoring opportunities to a minimum.

Final Thoughts

The Buffalo Sabres played a solid 60 minutes of hockey and battled for a victory with a depleted roster, especially on defense. Not only was Jacob Bryson out, but Owen Power became injured in practice shortly before the game and the Sabres were forced to rely on a five-man D.

Buffalo’s defense made it hard for Colorado to score for most of the matchup. While the Sabres could have played a better third period, they’ve proven they can beat good teams when they focus on choking off their opponent’s scoring opportunities and taking advantage of their own.

The Sabres continue their western road trip with a visit to the Arizona Coyotes tomorrow night. Puck drop is at 9 pm in ASU Arena.