OPINION: Three observations: Sabres hang around all game, beat Rangers in shootout

A full 60-plus-minute effort leads to a Sabres victory over the Rangers

The Buffalo Sabres came to play once again, opening with another great first period against the New York Rangers on Saturday night at KeyBank Center. Buffalo kept things close in the first period, getting out with things tied at 1-1.

The Sabres allowed the Rangers to walk all over them after the first period on Thursday night in Buffalo, but things weren't the same on Saturday.

Buffalo stuck with it, keeping up with the Rangers in shots, and only trailed by a goal heading in to the third period. Luckily, the Sabres hung on just long enough for Victor Olofsson to tie things up late, allowing the Sabres to get things to a shootout. That was where Tage Thompson would secure the victory with the lone shootout goal in a 3-2 win.

Now, let's take a look at three observations from Saturday night's game:

1.) Sabres put together full effort against Rangers

Whatever happened to the Sabres after 20 minutes on Thursday night didn't happen to them on Saturday.

Without the fatigue the second game of a back-to-back series typically brings, the Sabres stuck with the Rangers the entire way through the game. New York got out to a lead in the second period on Artemi Panarin's second goal of the game off of a great feed from Rangers defenseman Adam Fox, but Buffalo continued to pepper Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin with shots.

The Sabres finally broke through on Olofsson's late third period goal, where Kyle Okposo managed to get the puck to the winger in the slot with nobody around him. Olofsson wound up and fired it by Shesterkin to send things to overtime for Buffalo.

2.) Ullmark comes up big in Buffalo second win of the week

Linus Ullmark's return to the lineup has given the Sabres a stable presence in net.

Since his return, he's 2-1-1 with a .925 save percentage. He's allowed the Sabres to take more chances with the puck, knowing he'll be back there to give them a big save if need be. Ullmark provided a number of them on Saturday night.

Ullmark came up especially huge in the shootout for the Sabres, stopping all three Rangers shooters to help the Sabres win their second game in less than a full week.

Ullmark's name has come up in trade talks recently, with Sportsnet hockey insider Elliotte Friedman noting on a recent hit with The Instigators on WGR that the Toronto Maple Leafs have inquired about the Sabres' upcoming unrestricted free agent.

With the NHL trade deadline just over a week away, Ullmark's strong play will only increase interest in the Buffalo netminder.

3.) Buffalo takes a different approach to the line of Panarin, Strome and Zibanejad

Rangers forwards Artemi Panarin, Ryan Strome, and Kappo Kakko terrorized the Sabres for 40-plus minutes on Thursday night. The trio had the Sabres hemmed into their own end for, what seemed to be, at least, half of the entire game.

The Sabres tried countering that line mostly with a line of Cody Eakin, Tobias Rieder and Steven Fogarty, and it did not go well for them. Sabres interim head coach Don Granato seemed to figure this out by the end of the game.

Buffalo switched up its approach on Saturday, matching one of the scoring lines against Panarin, Strome and Kakko and allowing Eakin and company to play their game against the trio of Colin Blackwell, Kevin Mooney and Julien Gauthier.

It seems to have paid off, with Eakin, Rieder and Fogarty having much better shot shares against those calibers of players, while Sabres forwards Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson and Kyle Okposo mostly matched up against Panarin and his linemates all night.


The Sabres will get a couple of days off from game action before heading to the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. That's where they'll play the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

We'll get our coverage started at 6 p.m. ET with Mike Schopp and the Bulldog hosting the Paul William Beltz Pregame Show. That will lead you up to puck drop, scheduled to take place just after 7 p.m. ET on the flagship station of the Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.

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