Sabres Win for Buffalo
The Buffalo Sabres hosted the Detroit Red Wings for the first sporting event in Buffalo since the devastating storm that hit Western New York during the holiday season. It was a big win for the Sabres after a 10 day break, taking home a 6-3 victory over a division opponent. Five skaters notched multipoint outings, led by Captain Kyle Okposo and an unexpected hat trick. Zemgus Girgensons, Owen Power, and JJ Peterka all had two assists while Casey Mittelstadt scored a brace. Dylan Cozens also notched an assist to put himself onto a three game point streak. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen started in net for Buffalo, posting 28 saves on 31 shots for a .903 save percentage.
The Sabres came out dominant in possession in the first period despite only a 1-0 scoreline. Fresh legs seemed to win the argument over being rusty as Buffalo possessed the puck in the offensive zone for what felt like the entirety of the period except a few opportunities from Detroit, ultimately squandered by Luukonnen.
The Sabres first period goal came immediately after their first power play ended, just after going back to five-on-five, JJ Peterka took a shot that was just wide but ended up on the stick of Casey Mittelstadt, who handled the puck around Magnus Hellberg to put the Sabres up 1-0 at 15:32. that was almost it for the action in the period, with two minutes to go things got hot.
A cross-check penalty was called on Adam Erne and Buffalo went onto their second power play of the day. just 20 seconds into it though, Owen power was called for interference and 4v4 hockey was played for the remainder of the period.
In the second period, Buffalo came out on the attack, just over a minute into the period Jeff Skinner scored on a break and notched the only point of the day by the first line forwards. Depth was on full display for the Sabres. Their next goal wouldn't come until the back half of the period, on the power play. the second unit found yet another goal with Power and Peterka assisting Mittelstadt in front of goal.
"Those guys have been consistent and we needed them tonight, That unit was key... it's significant to have that skill, talent, and those guys playing as a cohesive unit" - Head Coach Don Granato on the second line power play unit.
The second mittelstadt goal sparked a serious fire in the third and fourth line offensive units. Just a minute later Peyton Krebs and Girgensons combined to find Okposo in front of net to make it 4-0. Then a few moments after that Okposo found the back of the net again after Tyson Jost stripped a defender behind the goal and found his captain in the slot.
As the teams went to the break, Buffalo appeared to have all the momentum. that being said third period leads have been common for the sabres. The trend of many sabres games of late has been carrying a lead into the third period and the opposing team quickly shifting the momentum and getting right back into the game, two third period goals to Las Vegas, Colorado, and Pittsburgh since December 9th. That scenario would've made sense for Detroit as they had come back from 0-4 the night before in Pittsburgh to win 5-4 on overtime.
Detroit came out with the momentum in the third and caught the Sabres and the crowd off guard. A three goal run in the first seven minutes of the period, led by Dominik Kubalik who scored the first two for the Red Wings. All three goals were subject to loose pucks in front of the Buffalo net that were worked around by Detroit to score.
After that run Buffalo went onto a power play due to a roughing call and were not able to convert but they halted the momentum of Detroit. Just past the 16 minute mark Kyle Okposo put a bow on the W with an empty netter to complete his hat trick and he sent the city of Buffalo home with smiles on their faces after pushing through the storm.
With that win Buffalo continue their win streak to five and move to 17-14-2 while Detroit fall to 15-12-7. The Sabres next game will be on Saturday December 31st against The NHL leading Boston Bruins.