Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres host the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night, and will be wearing their black and red "goathead" third jerseys for the first time this season.
Buffalo couldn’t come in on a more positive note after waxing the Canadiens in Montreal on Tuesday, 7-2.
That game showed why the Sabres shouldn’t have been on an eight-game losing streak coming into the night. Buffalo opened fast, taking the play to Montreal and scoring three goals in the first 2:13 of the game. They were the type of goals that a team scores when they’re playing with no fear of making mistakes.
Rasmus Dahlin hadn’t scored in six games, and I don’t think I saw him read a play or break down the slot in any of those games.
With Mattias Samuelsson back, the confident Dahlin was back. It just seemed like he wasn’t worried about making a mistake, because his partner was there to back him up.
Tage Thompson gave Dahlin a perfect feed and 35 seconds into the game, it was 1-0, Buffalo.
Just 17 seconds later, Dylan Cozens and JJ Peterka went to the net as Jack Quinn was shooting from the high slot. Cozens dug for the rebound in the crease and knocked it free to Peterka.
Now Buffalo had two good things happen to them in the first minute of the game, because they worked hard to make them happen. There was no way their compete level had to be different, it was there all night.
As a matter of fact, the Sabres were initiating and showed a gritty side that we rarely see from them. They were hard on pucks, they wore Montreal down with their relentless forecheck, and even their newcomer made an immediate impression.
On his first shift of the game, forward Tyson Jost hit Chris Wideman behind the net. The Canadiens defenseman got up and dropped the gloves. Jost was totally fine with that, and had his first fight on his first shift with the Sabres.
There was no backing off or getting scared in this game. When Cole Caufield’s one-timer hit Casey Mittelstadt’s stick and went in to make it 3-1, there was no panic.
Montreal had three power plays in the first period after that goal, and Buffalo did a terrific job of killing them all. That’s the same penalty kill that had been operating at 60% in the eight games before.
That was another huge positive from Tuesday's game, as Buffalo was 6-for-6 on the penalty kill.
Craig Anderson was a key part of that penalty kill, making 11 saves just while Montreal had the extra man. Anderson made 29 saves overall on the night.
Thompson’s line led the way in this game, picking up 12 points. Jeff Skinner had two goals and three assists for five points, Thompson had a goal and three assists for four points, and Alex Tuch had a goal and two assists for three points.
In 37 games against the Habs, Skinner has 23 goals and 17 assists for 40 points.
Thompson is now eighth in league scoring with 13 goals and 13 assists for 26 points. He’s one point behind Sidney Crosby. His 13 goals are fourth in the league.
If the Sabres played more like they did on Tuesday, they would win a lot more games than they’d lose.
You want to talk about a streaky team, the Blues certainly qualify. They started the season with three wins, followed by eight -traight losses. Now, Ryan O’Reilly’s crew has seven-straight wins.
Thompson comes into the game with 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points in his last 12 games.
Tuch is on a four-game points streak, where he has three goals and five assists for eight points.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen will likely be in goal for Buffalo. He allowed four goals in his only start last Saturday in Toronto.
St. Louis is only 24th in goal scoring in the NHL, and 18th in goals-against. Their penalty killing is 30th, so that may be where Buffalo could take advantage.
O’Reilly only has five goals and three assists for eight points in 18 games this season. Vladimir Tarasenko has just four goals.
Jordan Binnington doesn’t have good numbers for the season, but he’s been on fire lately, giving up just nine goals in his last five starts. He's started six of the seven games in the winning streak, posting a 2.00 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage.
The three players carrying the Blues during their winning streak are Pavel Buchnevich with 10 points, and Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou with nine each.
Another impressive part is all but one of the seven wins came in regulation.
St. Louis is 5-4-0 on the road while Buffalo is 4-6-0 at home.
Join Schopp and the Bulldog for pregame coverage starting at 6 p.m. EST when you’ll hear from new Rochester Americans Hall-of-Famer Jason Pominville, Don Granato and Samuelsson.