OPINION: Cozens' hat-trick leads Sabres to third-straight win

Buffalo wore the Capitals out with their relentless speed and battle

Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres arrived at the rink Sunday morning to find out they’d be without forward Alex Tuch - was on a 40-goal pace this season - and All-Star defenseman Rasmus Dahlin.

Buffalo came out fast right at puck drop, and by the time it was all over, they sent the Washington Capitals back home with a 7-4 loss.

Dylan Cozens had a four-point afternoon, scoring the first hat-trick of his career in the process. He and his teammates were constantly in on the Washington defense, making them uncomfortable. The Sabres either would win the battle, or rush the Caps into turnover.

Cozens was flying all day, and constantly got to open parts of the ice to receive passes and get chances.

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With his four-point game, Cozens snapped a three-game pointless streak. In his last eight games, he has six goals and three assists for nine points.

Vinnie Hinostroza came back up from the Rochester Americans and went right to the Cozens line. He played his best game of the season, and it paid off in his first goal of the year to go with an assist.

The winger showed that he kept himself ready while he was in the AHL. Sabres head coach Don Granato said he told Hinostroza that he’d be back, and to be ready for the next opportunity.

Tage Thompson hit the 40-goal mark for the first time in his career, but both he and Granato feel like there is more that he has than just 40 goals.

Jack Quinn slid into Tuch’s spot with Thompson and Jeff Skinner, and he was up for the task. On his first shift, Quinn slid a beautiful pass over to Owen Power jumping in from the point, with Power just missing the chance to score.

Quinn had two assists and really lifted his teammates when he took part in his first NHL fight. He was another Sabres player that seemed to have the puck on his stick all afternoon.

With Dahlin out, Power led the way on the back end, playing 27:43. General manager Kevyn Adams said Dahlin had been playing through something, and it just got to the point where he needed to rest. He’s considered as day-to-day.

With two wins over teams that they’re fighting with for playoff position, the Sabres are now in the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. Their winning streak is at three, and the way they lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday is a distant memory.

The Sabres have now spent three games showing what they can do when they pressure the opponent in their offensive zone. Florida and Washington had zero answers. Tampa Bay had a lot of answers, but the Sabres never panicked or detoured, and they were rewarded.

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The New York Islanders have seventh place in the conference and are three points ahead of the Sabres. However, if you go by points percentage, Buffalo is seventh at .569, while Pittsburgh is eighth at .560, and Detroit is ninth at .552.

The win over Washington puts the Sabres two points ahead of them with four games in-hand.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are in Buffalo on Tuesday.

Photo credit Losi and Gangi
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