A winning weekend that was much-needed.
Kyle Okposo scored a pair of goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Winnipeg Jets by a 3-1 score at the MTS Centre on Sunday afternoon.
After missing three games, Robin Lehner returned and played a strong game in goal, stopping 37 of the 38 shots he faced.
“I thought he was really solid,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “He looked really comfortable, maybe the most he has all year.”
The Jets were aggressive after falling behind by three and pulled their goaltender with 3:15 to go, making it a 6-on-4 man advantage as they were already on the power play. The Sabres had three shots from their own end that just missed rolling into the empty net.
Marcus Foligno had a few shots at the gaping net after that, but both times he missed, resulting an icings. He then took a cross checking penalty in the final minute, but fortunately, it didn’t cost his team a goal.
The Sabres penalty kill has been solid this season and it showed again on Sunday as the team successfully killed off all six penalties. They improved to 82 percent on the road and 87 percent overall.
Brian Gionta scored the other Sabres’ goal as he got his own rebound and knocked it into the net for his third of the season.
“We did a good job closing that out,” Gionta said. “We want to be a team that can stack some wins together. It’s a team that is growing.”
The Sabres got off to a quick start as they tallied two first-period goals. It was the third time in the last three games that they’ve gone out to a 2-0 lead.
“It’s been a difference for us,” said Bylsma on the quick start. “We come out and get a lead on the road. It’s a key for us.”
Okposo’s second goal chased Michael Hutchinson, who allowed three goals on 15 shots. Connor Hellebuyck came on in relief and stopped all 13 shots.
Nikolaj Ehlers scored the lone goal for the Jets, which came in the third period.
The Sabres lost another forward to injury this game as Hudson Fasching suffered a groin injury and did not return.
The victory marks the first time the Sabres have recorded wins on consecutive days since November 27 and 28 of 2015, when they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators each by a score of 4-1.
That closes the book on the opening month of October, which definitely could have been better, but Buffalo salvaged something with a couple of wins this weekend. The Sabres will have to prepare for a busy November when they play 14 games, half of which are against division opponents.
The first stop will be in Minnesota on Tuesday. Devan Dubnyk has recorded three consecutive shutouts, including one against the Sabres last week. That game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. puck drop.