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Sabres douse Flames to end two-game skid on West Coast road trip

Mar 24, 2024; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1) guards his net against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Calgary Flames vs Buffalo Sabres
Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames
Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo Sabres
Current Status: Final

Buffalo bounced back with a solid win to stay in with a remote chance at the playoffs

Score: Buffalo Sabres 4-1 Calgary Flames
Shots: BUF 29-33 CAL

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Krebs (4), Peterka (24), Thompson (22, EN), Clifton (3, EN)
Calgary Flames Goals: Huberdeau (10)

Minus 1: Special Teams – no comment

One gets the feeling that this late into the season, the Sabres have just accepted that they have a mediocre power play and a penalty kill that’s sliding into the same inept territory. After wasting seven power play opportunities in the last two games, shortfalls that basically led to defeats and the possible death knell for any playoff chances, they had another chance to make up for it against the Flames, and failed again. That’s ten power plays on this four-game West Coast swing, and a sum total of zero goals. The power play is now on life support in 27th place, with an efficiency of just 16.3%.

Had the shorthanded units been stout then there would have been some consolation that while they failed to score on power plays, they at least weren’t shipping goals the other way. Quite the opposite in fact, with Buffalo giving up a goal on the penalty kill in each of their four games on this road trip, and a pretty awful four goals shipped in fourteen power plays to the opposition. The penalty kill has now dropped to twentieth, at 78.6%.

Plus 1: Secondary Scoring Shows Up

The Sabres have struggled often when their top line guys aren’t in the goals. JJ Peterka however seems to have rediscovered his scoring touch, picking up his third goal in two games after scoring the Sabres’ go-ahead goal last night. He’s making the most of his promotion to the first line playing next to Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch.

Peyton Krebs is centering a slightly-odd third line of himself with Jeff Skinner and call-up Lukas Rousek, and he picked up a rare goal as well in his return home.

Plus 2: Defensive Grit Late On

After the two sides went into the third period tied at one, it was the Sabres that pulled ahead and then did enough defensively to stay ahead. It did take a solid effort though as Calgary threw everything they had at the Sabres goal, with a number of shots bravely blocked and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen looking to get his numbers looking a little better after that hit they took at Edmonton in the third period a few nights ago.

A pair of well-taken empty-netters for Thompson and Conor Clifton then put the lid on it and poured cold water on any chance of a Flames comeback from the embers. Oh, and UPL also got an assist on Clifton’s goal with a no-look pass behind the goal!

Final Thoughts

Dropping two games against very difficult Western Conference opposition on a grueling road trip is somewhat understandable. However, the Sabres’ early season indifference has put them in a place where every single game is a must-win, and despite pulling out a win last night and even winning out all their remaining ten games might still not be enough to secure a playoff berth.

Buffalo’s next five games are all at home, and four of their next six opponents are all chasing the sole wildcard spot still up for grabs – Devils, Capitals, Flyers & Red Wings. If they’re not gonna win all those games and make it to the dance, the least they can do it is make it interesting and play spoilsport for some of their rivals.

The Sabres are back on Wednesday evening at the KeyBank Center hosting the Ottawa Senators, puck drop is at 7p.

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