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Sabres Win at Home, Skinner Stuns in OT

Dec 30, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner (53) reacts after scoring the game winning goal in overtime against the Columbus Blue Jackets at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

“Skinner, Skinner, Overtime Winner” – Dan Dunleavy

Score: Sabres 3 | Blue Jackets 2

Shots: BUF 42 | CBJ 20

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Jack Quinn (3), Casey Mittelstadt (10), Jeff Skinner (15-OT)

Columbus Blue Jackets Goals: Damon Severson (4), Adam Fantilli (11)

Minus-1: Another Scoreless First Period

The Sabres have not been able to bury the puck in the first period in what feels like ages. Well, to be fair, the month of December has not been terrible for them in that department. However, it has been the common theme throughout the 2023-2024 season so far.

Not only were they unable to capitalize on the many chances (and goalposts) they had in the opening 20 minutes, they allowed Columbus – the fifth worst team in the league – to score on a quick rebound with 12.1 seconds remaining. Shout out to Tage Thompson, though, for attempting to tie it up after the final faceoff of the period with his wrister from the point that nearly made it past goaltender Daniil Tarasov.

Tarasov, incidentally, has one win so far this year and, you guessed it, it was against the Sabres.

Plus-1: Jack is Back

Jack Quinn tallied his third goal in five games since returning from his Achilles injury/surgery earlier this month and it was a fun one that truly made KeyBank Center erupt. After some really thoughtful passing from JJ Peterka and a rebound off of Tarasov, Quinn was able to flip the puck into the left side of the net to tie up the game early in the second period. He was one of the more exciting forwards to watch tonight, too, as his effort never faltered.

Minus-2: Power Play is Still a Joke

Following a hooking call on Columbus, Buffalo found themselves on the first power play of the night halfway through the second period. Who had the first shot of that power play, you ask? Oh, it was the shorthanded team, and, luckily Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen managed to keep the Sabres tied with the visitors after a big save off of winger Justin Danforth’s shot. The Blue Jackets have not scored shorthanded so far this season, but it would not have been surprising if it happened tonight. In 2023, according to Natural Stat Trick, the Sabres are 28th in the league in PP goals for with 5.87 and 29th in goals against with 1.61. Yikes.

To make things even more frustrating for fans, Adam Fantilli scored just seconds after leaving the penalty box to give his team the 2-1 lead.

Final Thoughts

I have two positive takeaways from tonight’s game against Columbus – which, after their last matchup, is definitely an improvement. The first notable thought is the amount of shots the Sabres racked up with an impressive 42. While they definitely made Tarasov look better than he probably is, they at least arrived on the ice with pressure throughout most of the game and our beloved Jeff Skinner was able to seal the deal – break free, if you will – with his beautiful goal in overtime.

The other takeaway is that the Sabres did not let their 1-0 deficit in the first period decide their fate in this game. Too many times this season, Buffalo has failed to score first and it has cost them the game after playing catch-up the entire time. Tonight was a fun exception.

Three Stars

1. Jeff Skinner (1G, 17:07 TOI)

Skinner also had 13 attempted shots and seven total shots on goal tonight.

2. Casey Mittelstadt (1G)

3. Jack Quinn (1G)

Honorable mention should be Owen Power, who had two assists tonight.

Talking Points