The Sabres went into St. Louis with hope of snapping a three-game losing streak against former captain Steve Ott and the Blues, but they left empty handed. Playing in his 14th career game, Jori Lehtera took control, netting a natural hat trick and leading St. Louis to a 6-1 victory over Buffalo.
“It’s about compete,” Ted Nolan said. “You compete, you get mad, you get angry. You stand up for yourselves.”
The line of Lehtera, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz gave the Sabres problems all night long. Despite the lopsided score, the Sabres were in the game and stayed with the Blues for parts of the game.
Nicolas Deslauriers received a match penalty with 5:42 remaining in the third for spearing Tarasenko. Trailing by two goals at the time, the penalty hurt any chance Buffalo had of getting within a goal or possibly tying the game.
The Blues made Deslauriers and the Sabres pay big times, as they cashed in on the five minute power play, scoring three goals in just 1:59 to increase the lead to 6-1. Joakim Lindstrom tallied a pair and David Backes tipped one by Neuvirth to derail the Sabres.
One positive sign is the way the team stood up after a hit that Tyler Ennis took. Ennis took a big hit from Ian Cole into the boards during the second period, and it started a scrum. Nikita Zadorov and Ennis both earned fighting majors, but the team showed that it could stand up for a teammate, unlike in the past.
“I was very happy and proud of my teammates of having my back, I really appreciate that, that’s what teams do,” Ennis said.
Ennis later got on the scoresheet with his 5th goal of the season just 59 seconds into the third period. It was the Sabres’ first power play goal on the road this season.
“I thought we played well, we competed, we played hard,” Ennis said.
The Sabres 15 shots in the opening period were the most of any period all season long, but they couldn’t beat Brian Elliott in the first 20 minutes.
Josh Gorges left the game with a lower body injury during the second period and did not return.
“The way we started, it was probably among the best we’ve played this season,” Nolan said. “A lot of good signs tonight. We’re still learning & still growing. Liked how we stood up for each other. Definitely something to build on.”
The Sabres will head to Minnesota for a meeting against the Wild on Thursday. That game is scheduled for 8 p.m. and can be seen on MSG.