Nathan MacKinnon played a part in all three Avalanche goals, and Philipp Grubauer made all 18 saves to record a 3-0 shutout over the Sabres in Denver on Saturday afternoon.
Mikko Rantanen scored a back-breaking power-play goal at the mid-point of the 3rd period to augment Colorado’s lead to two goals and put the game out of reach. The goal was a beauty though, as on a 4-3 man-advantage, the Finnish winger stepped in from the far circle and sniped a gorgeous shot above the glove of Carter Hutton to put the Avalanche up 2-0. The power play came, though, on a very questionable call, as Johan Larsson went to the box for slashing Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon seemed more to lose an edge on the play, as opposed to the slash really having an effect on him.
The win improved Colorado’s home record to 15-12-6 and puts them two points out of the second Wild Card position in the Western Conference.
For the Sabres, the loss extends their latest streak of indifference to four games, with three of the losses being in regulation.
After a mild wait, Sabres room just not happy at all. Eichel pissed about the late hit. “He hits me after they fucking, excuse my language, blow the whistle. That’s whatever…”
— Joe Yerdon (@JoeYerdon) March 9, 2019
Indifference really was the order of the day for Buffalo as they only mustered 18 shots of their own, meanwhile giving up 43. The only entertaining spot for Sabres’ fans this afternoon was the relative truculence with which the Sabres played for the majority of the afternoon. It all got started when former Sabre Nikita Zadorov hit Jack Eichel late and after the whistle, along the boards, which ignited Sam Reinhart and Jeff Skinner into the fray.
The hitting continued throughout the afternoon, as the Sabres ended up with 36 body-shots, as opposed to 26 for Colorado. Four different players led the Sabres with four hits apiece. Zach Bogosian seemed particularly ornery today, but it didn’t make any difference on the scoreboard for Buffalo.
The only player the Sabres can be pleased with was goaltender Carter Hutton, who stopped 40 of the 42 shots he faced. Many of them were of the high-chance variety, with heavy traffic. All-in-all, a wasted excellent effort from the Sabres’ net-minder.
For Philipp Grubauer, who only needed to make 18 saves this afternoon, most of which a shooter-tutor could’ve stopped, the afternoon saw him notch his second shutout of the season. The only time he was really tested was by a first-period Sam Reinhart breakaway, which saw the goalie slide to his right and throw his pad out to make an excellent stop, as Reinhart received a pass just as he emerged from the penalty box.
Up next for Buffalo, they’ll try to break the losing streak against the Dallas Stars, as they return home on Tuesday night. Puck-drop is scheduled for 7:00 from downtown Buffalo at the KeyBank Center.