OPINION: Buffalo guts out win in St. Louis

The Sabres have now won four-straight games

(WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres got a very gutsy effort to get their first win over the Blues in St. Louis since Dec. 27, 2009. Buffalo had lost nine-straight there, but on Tuesday, facing back-to-back road games, they dug in and held off a Blues rally for a 5-3 victory.

Just 24 minutes into this game, Buffalo had a 4-0 lead, but by the time we were 47 seconds into the third period, the Blues had made it 4-3.

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Buffalo dug in and tried to find the energy to finish this game off. They wouldn't have been able to do it without some great third period goaltending from Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

Luukkonen frustrated Blues veteran winger Vladimir Tarasenko more than once, with the final time coming at the 18:12 mark in the third period from the right circle. Luukkonen had made a great save on Tarasenko earlier in the period, and Tarasenko got another chance after stealing the puck from Jeff Skinner to come right down Main Street. However, he was turned away by the young goalie.

Earlier in the period, Luukkonen also foiled Brandon Saad, who had a partial breakaway.

Tarasenko had five shots on goal in the game, and easily could’ve scored on four of them had it not been for Luukkonen.

Yes, three goals did get by Luukkonen, but he has the knack of making the big save at the big time to help his team win.

Buffalo has now won four-straight games, taking victories from the Blues, Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks and New York Islanders.

Tage Thompson entered the game on a four-game point streak, but only one of his five points were a goal. Facing the team that traded him for Ryan O’Reilly, Thompson had a goal and two assists, giving him two goals and six assists for eight points in five games.

The game was only 1:25 old when Alex Tuch made it 2-0. Just 25 seconds before that, Skinner netted his 20th goal of the season.

Owen Power scored his first goal of the season on Monday in overtime. He followed that up on Tuesday by being set up in the crease by JJ Peterka coming from the bench. He scored on an easy tap-in for his second goal in as many games.

When you’re a team playing your 11th game in 18 days, you must find ways to win games when the energy is low. For Buffalo, the energy was on fumes, but the desire to win a game wasn’t.

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Yes, maybe in the second period the team did try to get a little fancy, because they had already scored four goals. That turned into survival after a while.

Luukkonen made 25 saves on the game, with nine coming in the third period.

If you want an example of a player that will do anything to win a hockey game, watch the effort from inside the zone to the red line by Dylan Cozens to score the shorthanded, empty net goal.

Buffalo was able to sweep the season series from the Blues. Since 2011, St. Louis had gone 15-3-1 against the Sabres.

Over the team's last 14 road games, the Sabres are now 11-2-1.

The team will likely get Wednesday off from practice, and play in Winnipeg on Thursday against the Jets.

Photo credit Losi and Gangi
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