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Game Recap

Sabres hold off Ducks for first win

Chad Johnson stops 25 shots as Phil Housley earns his first NHL victory as head coach

Recap

Johan Larsson watched from just outside the penalty box as his shot went into a gaping net on Sunday night, sealing Buffalo’s first victory of the season, a 3-1 win over Anaheim.

It was a collective sigh of relief as the Sabres finally got in the win column after playing their sixth game, marking the first-ever for head coach Phil Housley, but the former Sabres defenseman was quick to credit the team.

“It’s great to get your first win, but this isn’t about me. It’s about those guys in that locker room. They found a way to win tonight on the road in a tough building.” – Housley

It appeared as though the Sabres were about to fall into the same trap as they did against Los Angeles on Saturday.

With a penalty dwindling down, Chris Wagner outraced a pair of Sabres for a loose puck and beat Chad Johnson on a breakaway, knotting the game at one. The goal was scored short-handed, making it the fifth time this season Buffalo has allowed a goal while on the power play.

However, the Sabres fought back instead of slowing down. Benoit Pouliot took advantage of an Anaheim miscue and banked a shot off a defender and into the net. The goal broke a 12-game drought, dating back to March.

Finally for Buffalo, their scoring didn’t come from the top line.

In his season debut, forward Justin Bailey made his first shift count, backhanding a shot past John Gibson less than a minute and a half into the game.

 

“Getting that first goal is always huge, and it gave me confidence for the rest of the game,” Bailey said. “Whatever minutes I got, I was going out there and trying to skate hard and give the guys energy.”

Housley said he liked what he saw from Bailey, and wishes the forward could’ve gotten more ice time than his 9:39.

“He provided that spark,” Housley said. “He used his speed well, was tenacious on the forecheck. He did a really good job.”

Johnson was solid in goal, stopping 25 of 26 shots. At the other end, John Gibson allowed two goals on 30 shots.

“It was really important that we got solid goaltending, and he provided that,” Housley said.

It’s been a frustrating start to the season for Buffalo, but it will be interesting to see how the team builds off the win.

“It feels great. I have to tip my hat to the guys in that locker room. The guys really gutted it out to get a win and I’m really proud of them. We played a really smart game. We didn’t put ourselves in a position where we wasted energy.” – Housley

The Sabres will remain out west and prepare for Tuesday’s game when they take on the Vegas Golden Knights for the first time. The Golden Knights have gotten off to a hot start with a 4-1 record, but the Sabres look for back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Puck drop is scheduled for 10 p.m. EST and can be seen on MSG.

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