The St. Louis Blues scored twice in the third period, coming from behind to beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 at First Niagara Center Monday night.
The Blues have dominated the Sabres in recent memory, winning 10 of their last 11 meetings in Buffalo. During their current four-game win streak at First Niagara Center, they’ve outscored the Sabres 12-2.
Jake Allen earned his 41st career win. Since entering the NHL on Feb. 5, 2013, Allen’s .708 win percentage leads all goaltenders with a minimum of 50 starts. Linus Ullmark took the loss. He’s gone 2-2-1 in his last five games with a 1.99 GAA.
The Sabres simply can’t score. In their current five-game losing streak (0-3-2), they’ve only lit the lamp five times. And while no one can be happy with a loss, they played a hard, smart game. They battled up and down the walls and stacked everyone at the blue line, preventing the Blues from using their speed.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “There was a lot of good in a lot of areas from our team … you’d like to find some goals in there.”
The first shot on goal for either team came a little over seven minutes into the first period. While shorthanded, former Sabre Steve Ott tipped a puck by Cody Franson and had a clear breakaway from center ice. Ullmark made a phenomenal save to keep the game scoreless. It was yet more evidence of Buffalo’s horrendous power play.
In the first, both Ryan O’Reilly and Johan Larsson hit the post. With a great feed by Gionta, O’Reilly had Allen beaten like a rented mule but couldn’t put it away. Eichel also had a great chance as he faced a wide open net but the puck bounced over his stick.
David Legwand broke a scoreless tie late in the second period with his first goal as a Sabre. Nicolas Deslauriers created the chance with by winning a battle down low before feeding the pass to Legwand who put it away. The puck must’ve touched the Blues defenseman as the goal was officially scored unassisted. Deslauriers scooped the puck up for Legward who no doubt had his picture taken with it after the game. The goal ended the Sabres scoreless streak at just under 130 minutes.
St. Louis tied it up a little over five minutes into the third. Kevin Shattenkirk’s initial shot was blocked by Bogosian, but Troy Brouwer picked up the loose puck and went short side on Ullmark with a backhand. He snuck it in between the blocker and the post. Shattenkirk now has points in six straight games (two goals, six assists).
Eight minutes later, St. Louis took the lead, 2-1 on a scramble in front of Ullmark. Georges blocked the initial shot but as he was spinning around, the puck bounced off his skate and inadvertently into the net. Robby Fabbri, the last Blue to touch the puck, got credit for the goal.
Bylsma waived the ref over and used Buffalo’s coaches’ challenge, claiming the play was offsides. It was a real close call–Brouwer kept his trail skate on the line for a split second. After a brief review the goal was declared good. It was the first time Buffalo has used a challenge; all three challenges by opponents have gone against them.
The Sabres had a chance late in the game to tie it as Carl Gunnarsson was called for closing his hand on the puck. They pulled Ullmark, playing 6-on-4 for the final minute, but couldn’t put one past Allen.
Next up, the Sabres host the Nashville Predators Wednesday night at First Niagara Center. Game time is 7 p.m.