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Sabres, UPL Shut Out Sharks

Jan 13, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (26) waits for the face-off during the second period against the Vancouver Canucks at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo holds San Jose off in 3-0 win.

Score: Sabres 3 | Sharks 0
Shots: BUF 35 | SJS 28

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Casey Mittelstadt (12), Alex Tuch (12), Jordan Greenway (4)
San Jose Sharks Goals: None

Minus 1: Slow Start

The Sabres didn’t come out flying on Monday afternoon. Part of that may have been shaking off the rust, since they didn’t get to skate Sunday and had to come into Monday’s matinee without any sort of morning skate. But they simply looked disinterested early on, and a game that should’ve been 2-0 or 3-0 in the first period remained scoreless. They barely outshot the Sharks 8-7 in the first period – with the bulk of Buffalo’s shots actually coming from Henri Jokiharju – and had maybe one high-quality chance.

Plus 1: Mittlestadt Mode

Casey Mittelstadt continues to impress this season. It’s been really nice to see him step up his game, and get rewarded as a result. His opening goal on Monday came just over the midway point of the game and gave Buffalo a crucial 1-0 lead. Up until that point, it really could’ve gone either way – which is not ideal for the Sabres, when trying to beat a team at the bottom of the standings.

In addition to the goal, Mittelstadt assisted on Tuch’s goal later in the game, as well as Greenway’s empty-netter that helped seal the win. He now has 12 goals and 26 assists on the season.

Plus 1: More like UPW

I’ll admit it, I was a little surprised when it was announced that Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen would be getting his third straight start, if only because the rotation has very much been a thing this season. You’ve got to give him credit though; UPL has really stepped up and taken charge of the net, and he deserves it. He played another strong game on Monday and earned his second shutout of the season, and the second of his NHL career.

Final Thoughts

This was an important win for the Sabres, if for no other reason than you simply cannot lose to the worst team in the league! Now, Buffalo gets a day off before hosting the Chicago Blackhawks, who are also near the bottom of the league with a 12-29-2 record and. 26 points on the season. Again, that will be another must-win game on Wednesday night, so let’s see if the Sabres can string together a pair.