Chad Johnson registered his fourth career shutout as the Sabres defeated the Anaheim Ducks, 3-0 at the First Niagara Center Thursday night. Johnson stopped a career-high 44 shots including 19 in the third period, spoiling Coach Bruce Boudreau’s 300th game with the Ducks.
The Sabres, in the midst of a six game in ten night gauntlet, looked to have the better legs and higher level of determination than the visiting Ducks. Anaheim was playing just their second game in eleven days.
The Sabres played a strong team game that was led by its defense and fourth line (Nicolas Deslauriers, David Legwand, Cal O’Reilly). Despite being outshot by a 2-1 ratio, the Sabres were in command most of the game, with the exception of a two minute stretch midway through the third period when they were hemmed in their own zone.
Jake McCabe and Rasmus Ristolainen figured prominently in the game for the Sabres. McCabe scored the second Buffalo goal, a wrist shot tucked just inside the post to John Gibson’s right, that followed a tremendous cycle by the fourth line. Cal O’Reilly and Nick Deslauriers assisted on the play. It was O’Reilly’s first point as a Sabre and first NHL point in nearly four years.
Ristolainen had the primary assist on the Sabres’ third goal, Jamie McGinn’s seventh of the season. Josh Gorges tallied the secondary assist. Ristolainen took the puck hard to the net where an uncovered McGinn beat Gibson who had been expecting a shot from the big defenseman. Evander Kane also tallied his seventh, the game winner at the 2:36 mark of the second period. Jack Eichel made the play, actually bouncing the puck off of Kane’s right leg while he was stationed in front of the net for tip-in positioning.
The Ducks came in to the game with a paltry 55 goals scored this season, ten fewer than the second lowest team total in the league. That represents 1.89 goals per game, close to a full goal per game lower than their pace last year. Johnson was determined not to help.
The Sabres are now 14-16-3 and have won three of their last four games. Buffalo hosts homegrown star Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks on Saturday–a rare 1 p.m. matinee.