BUFFALO, NY: Steve Ott returned to Buffalo Thursday night for his one and only appearance (barring any trades to the EC). It was his second time facing his former teammates the Sabres since a trade last season to St. Louis along with Ryan Miller. The Sabres PR folks put together a nice tribute to the former captain during the opening period.
The Blues have been the hottest team in the NHL and headed into Buffalo without recording a loss in the last 13 games played. They left the frigid region 3-0 winners extending the streak to 14 games. Goaltender Jake Allen (15-5-2) was the first star of the game making 23 saves in the shutout effort. Jhonas Enroth (12-20-2) surrendered two goals on 29 shots in the loss.
The Sabres were coming off their first win in over a month (Montreal – Tuesday) and played well against a far superior team. They weren’t murdered by any stretch of the imagination. The Blues outshot them 30-23 but that was expected. The teams played a scoreless first period with the Sabres having the edge in SOG at 7-6. St Louis got on the board late in the 2nd. Sabres captain Brian Gionta whiffed on a faceoff in the Buffalo zone and Josh Gorges was caught flat-footed leaving Enroth helpless. Chris Butler’s shot from the point went wide and Dmitrij Jaskin was there to grab the puck behind the Sabres goal and buried a beautiful wrap around for his 6th goal of the season.
St Louis scored their 2nd goal of the game at 14:22 of the 3rd. Again, Josh Gorges was abused by the Blues forward tandem of Alex Steen and David Backes. Gorges was easily beaten to a loose puck behind the Sabres goal by Steen and he dished a backhand pass to the front to a wide open Backes. Vladimir Tarasenko crashed the net and scored his 27th off of a nice pass by the Blues captain.
Jaden Schwartz (19) added an empty netter to round out the scoring. The end was rough, Gorges play on the Blues first two goals was embarrassing. He has really struggled this season and now sits at a minus 30 through 43 games. Buffalo scratched defenseman Andrej Meszaros and Nikita Zadorov Thursday but Gorges needs to sit, he’s long overdue for a benching. He’s a great leader no doubt but his play has been brutal since his arrival.
Next up for Buffalo is Dallas on Saturday and coach named Lindy Ruff. The Stars fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3. They gave up 3 goals in the 3rd period after coming back from an earlier 2 goal deficit. They are sitting in last place of the Central division with 54 points. Despite the record they are the 2nd highest scoring team in the conference.