Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres won their second game in three tries on Saturday, beating the New York Rangers, 3-2 in a shootout.
Buffalo trailed in the third period, 2-1 before Sam Reinhart produce a turnover on the wall, getting the puck to Kyle Okposo. The winger left the puck for an open Victor Olofsson in the slot, and he ripped home his 10th goal of the season.
It’s the first time all season the Sabres won a game after trailing through two periods.
Buffalo got it to a shootout, knowing Linus Ullmark is the best goaltender in NHL history during shootouts with a .868 success ratio. To qualify, you have to have played in 10 shootouts. This season, Ullmark has stopped 12-of-13 shootout attempts, including all three on Saturday.
What was impressive was Artemi Panarin is one of the most talented players in the world. He had already scored two goals in regulation time, and in five games against the Sabres this season has three goals and six assists for nine points. Panarin had plenty of moves coming in, and Ullmark didn’t fall for any of them. He also stopped the hottest player in the NHL, Mika Zibanejad.
The Sabres had a nice game, and once again showed that Don Granato knows the style his team needs to play. It helps that they have points in four-straight games and are now 2-4-2 under Granato.
Before Granato took over, all the players heard was they need to improve all their worst traits as a player. Granato stresses what they do well and has them work on that.
Rasmus Dahlin looked every bit the part of a No. 1 overall pick, and his partner Henri Jokiharju has improved dramatically under interim assistant coach Dan Girardi. Early in the game, it was like Dahlin was shot out of a cannon as he brought the puck up the left wing side. He took the play deep and attempted a wrap around on Igor Shesterkin.
Later on the Sabres’ first goal, Dahlin whipped a dangerous, but effective cross ice pass in his own zone right on the tape of a breaking Taylor Hall. Hall immediately worked the puck up ice to Casey Mittelstadt, producing a 2-on-1. The former eighth overall pick in 2017 twice made Shesterkin think he was passing the puck to Hall, but the fakes opened some holes and Mittelstadt ripped home his third of the season.
Dahlin was scared to be Rasmus Dahlin under both Ralph Krueger and Phil Housley. For the past week, he’s taking what he does best and is bringing it to the ice.
Probably the only players that have gotten worse under Granato are Jeff Skinner and Hall.
Skinner has had very few chances for goals, while under Krueger, he had scoring chance after scoring chance after scoring chance.
Sam Reinhart has produced points in all three games he’s played center, but his overall play has declined.
If you’re wondering, the Sabres are still 10 points behind New Jersey for seventh in the East Division. Their .297 points percentage still makes them the worst team in Sabres history.
An illustration of how hard the team is playing came very early in the game. Pavel Buchnevich came across the crease and pulled Ullmark totally out of his net. All five Sabres collapsed down and the shot was blocked.
By the way, the only Sabre to score in the shootout was Tage Thompson, who is now 2-for-4 in his career.
Olofsson missed his shot and has never scored in three attempts. Mittelstadt missed his chance and is now 3-of-10 in his career.
Only Zemgus Girgensons, Hall and Skinner are worse from players that have taken at least 10 shots.
The team gets Easter off before heading to New Jersey on Monday for a game against the Devils on Tuesday.
Photo: Bill Wippert (@BWIPP) - Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres)