Strong 2nd Period Ensures Victory Over the Blues
The Buffalo Sabres extended their winning streak in a matinee game Saturday against the St. Louis Blues at KeyBank Center.
The Blues wasted no time getting the scoring started. Vladimir Tarasenko scored 1:31 into the first as it looked the the Sabres hadn’t found their legs yet. Nicholas Baptiste answered Tarasenko’s goal with one of his own 8 minutes later for his 3rd of the year. Jack Eichel carried the puck into the offensive zone drawing the attention of two Blues players and found Baptiste alone in front of the net, to beat Jake Allen five hole.
“He gets the call, and he’s out there, contributing right away. Used his speed.” Coach Dan Bylsma said. Baptiste was recalled from Rochester this morning to replace an ill Sam Reinhart.
The second period has been anemic for Buffalo this season, but today the Sabres stepped on the gas and didn’t let up. Evander Kane deflected a Zach Bogosian slap-shot past Allen to make the score 2-1 12 minutes into the period.
Respective cross checking and hooking calls against St. Louis gave the Sabres a 5-on-3 advantage for 45 seconds at the end of the period. Ryan O’Reilly capitalized on two-man-advantage, ripping a shot far-side to put the Sabres up 3-1 going into the third. With O’Reilly’s goal, the Sabres snapped the Blues’ streak of 23 straight penalty kills, while proving why Buffalo boasts the number one power-play unit in the league. Ristolainen picked up his 100th career point with an assist on O’Reilly’s goal.
The third period featured heavy offensive play and scoring chances for both teams. Jack Eichel made a break for the net, but was hauled down by Kevin Shattenkirk. A goal was scored during the power play, however it was a short handed goal for the Blues. Scottie Upshall took advantage of poor puck management, creating a breakaway and beating Robin Lehner with just under five minutes left in regulation.
In the last two minutes of the game, Lehner received a penalty on a questionable tripping call against Alexander Steen, served by Kyle Okposo. Jake Allen headed to the bench shortly after, giving the Blues a 6 on 4 advantage. In the waning seconds of regulation, Ryan O’Reilly broke up a play and sent the puck towards the empty net, just missing to the left. The penalty kill unit was able to run out the clock and the Sabres end up winning their third game in a row, leaving the team just one point out of the playoffs. St. Louis’ six game winning streak came to an end this afternoon.
There are several games of interest on the docket today as the Panthers, Islanders, and Leafs take the ice. If all three were to lose in regulation, the Sabres would remain within a point of a play-off spot. The blue and gold will look to extend their three game winning streak tomorrow evening when they host the Chicago Blackhawks. Puck drop is set for 6 pm at KeyBank Center. The game will be televised on NBCSN.