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Sabres Spear the Kraken in the Emerald City

Mar 18, 2024; Seattle, Washington, USA; Buffalo Sabres forward TageÊThompson (72), defenseman OwenÊPower (25), forward AlexÊTuch (89) and defenseman HenriÊJokiharju (10) celebrate a goal during the first period against the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo finally beats Seattle with a solid win.

Score: Buffalo Sabres 6, Seattle Kraken 2

Shots: BUF 30, SEA 34

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Tage Thompson (21), Jeff Skinner (22, 23, 24), Alex Tuch (19), Owen Power (6)

Seattle Kraken Goals: Jordan Eberle (15), Matty Beniers (10, PPG)

Plus 1: TNT Ties it Early

After Jordan Eberle beat UPL with a wrist shot just 24 seconds into the first period, Tage Thompson quickly answered back 25 seconds later to tie the score at 1. Zemgus Girgensons and Alex Tuch helped out and quieted the boisterous crowd at Climate Pledge Arena.

No. 72 had a low production season until recently, scoring a goal against the Red Wings in Detroit and now one in Seattle. Fans would love to see some more explosive plays from TNT in this year’s remaining matchups.

Plus 2: Skinner Makes it Two

Veteran sniper Jeff Skinner wasn’t content to sit back and let the Kraken get the lead back. He decided to get it for Buffalo, beating Seattle goalie Joey Daccord with a wrister 3:56 into the period and an assist from Peyton Krebs.

While he saw a drop in production from last season, No. 53 had a great first period (and overall game) against the Kraken, enjoying the first of three goals in this contest.

Plus 3: Tuch Gets the Third

Some two minutes after Skinner’s first goal, Alex Tuch made it 3-1 Sabres with a wrist shot that caused Kraken coach Dave Hakstol to pull Daccord and replace him with Philipp Grubauer. Thompson and Girgensons provided the assist. Tuch’s 18th of the season was a milestone, marking his 300th career point. Keep piling em’ up, No. 89!

Plus 4: Power Widens the Lead

Midway through the second, after the Sabres blew two power play chances, Buffalo defenseman Owen Power took charge of the game, beating Grubauer on a rebound that gave the Blue and Gold a two-goal lead.

Just his sixth goal of 2023-24, Power’s wrister came right when the Sabres needed it. The Kraken were playing more aggressively and looked like they might tie it. No. 25 put those fears to rest and provided a much-needed cushion. Rasmus Dahlin is a well-known offensive minded d-man and Bowen Byram also has that reputation. Maybe Power’s ready to join that club.

Plus 5: Skinner Scores Again (and Gets a Hat Trick)

Just one minute after Power’s goal, Skinner scored his second of the night, getting one on Grubauer shortsided. Deploy Savoie had the Comment of the Game: “Holy moly this goalie is holey”. If Hakstol thought putting in Grubauer in net would shut the door on any further Buffalo goals, he was sadly mistaken.

No. 53 wasn’t finished yet, however. With less than two minutes left in the third, Skinner got his 7th career hat trick on a Jordan Greenway assist to finish off the Kraken and help Buffalo beat Seattle for the first time ever. Skinner’s starting to sizzle and it’s fantastic to watch.

Plus 6: UPL Unbelievable Once Again

Sabres’ goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen played outstanding in front of Buffalo’s net, especially during the third period when the Kraken turned up the pressure. Fans are used to holding their breath when opponents tear down the Sabres’ ice, but UPL shut down any late Seattle chances.

No. 1 blocked 32 of 34 shots and helped the visitors finally break the Kraken curse. For the first time in years, the Sabres have a solid starting goalie that can help them win games. Goaltending has long been a Buffalo weakness, so it’s heartening to see that the team has finally solved one piece of the puzzle.

Final Thoughts

The Buffalo Sabres behaved the opposite of their 4-1 loss against Detroit. Instead of playing a solid first period and letting their opponents back in the game during the second and third, the Sabres kept up the pressure throughout in this one.

There were moments in the second half of the matchup when it looked like the tables could turn. Buffalo blew a couple of 5-on-4 opportunities and the Kraken got really aggressive during the final twenty minutes.

Even then, though, Buffalo’s D was much tougher, choking off plenty of Seattle scoring chances. UPL was also his usual shot-blocking self, not letting in another goal after Matty Beniers’ lucky power play bounce early in the second. The Sabres played 60 minutes of hockey and got the result they and their fans wanted.

Buffalo heads north to Vancouver next, to face the Canucks in a back-to-back. Puck drop is at 10:00 p.m. at Rogers Arena.

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