Hours after dealing veteran defenseman Eric Brewer to Tampa Bay, the Blues got a 25-save performance by Ty Conklin as they shut out the Sabres 3-0 in Buffalo on Friday night.
"To be honest, we had a lot of distractions today -- seeing Brew go right before the game, our captain," Conklin said. "He's a hell of a good teammate, so it's pretty impressive how the team responded."
T.J. Oshie had a goal and assist -- his first two-point performance in the month since he returned from a broken left ankle. David Backes and Vladimir Sobotka, with an empty-netter, also scored for the Blues, who won their second in a row and improved to 4-1-2 in their past seven. St. Louis is also 7-1-0 in its last eight in Buffalo.
"It was a very solid response," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "We talked before the game as a group, we acknowledged the fact that a friend and a teammate has been traded. We're not going to deny that fact, but our goals and objectives remain the same. And that's the type of performance we need to put on the ice."
The Sabres, desperate for every point as they try to get into the top eight in the Eastern Conference, lost at home to a team outside the top eight in its conference for the second time in three nights.
"That was flat-out disappointing," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said of his team's effort.
The loss also came on the day the NHL's Board of Governors approved the Sabres sale to Pennsylvania billionaire Terry Pegula.
Conklin continued his mastery of the Sabres, improving to 7-1-0 against Buffalo -- a team he played for briefly during the 2006-07 season. He's now beaten Buffalo with four teams; Edmonton, Pittsburgh, Detroit and the Blues.
"I don't know, sometimes you get the bounces against certain teams, when there's other teams that it feels like you're going to give up six goals every time," Conklin said. "It was a product of how the team plays in front of you."
Conklin got the start after Jaroslav Halak was placed on injured reserve Thursday with a right hand injury. It was the 15th shutout of Conklin's career and second this season, and moved the Blues within seven points of eighth-place Anaheim with three games in hand.
Oshie opened the scoring 2:47 into the second period by converting Patrik Berglund's centering pass into the slot. Berglund, stationed near the right post, had his initial pass blocked, but got the puck back again and found Oshie cruising through the middle for a shot past Ryan Miller.
Backes scored a power-play goal with 1:22 left in the second period by one-timing a shot from the left point that wobbled toward the net but went over Miller's left shoulder.
Sabres fans expressed their unhappiness by booing the team off the ice after the second period.
"I was surprised how poor our puck movement was," Ruff said. "It started with the first shift -- just a horrendous pass -- and we almost gave up a 3-on-1. I was shocked at the puck movement, which led to every area of our game being poor."
Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta caught Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo with his head down and leveled him a heavy hit in the right corner of the Blues zone five minutes into the third period. That gave the Sabres -- and the fans -- a brief jolt of energy, but it didn't last long. Within a few minutes, the fans were booing the Sabres again as they struggled to get of their own zone.
"It's frustrating. We have a homestand here to get points, make an even better push to get in the playoffs," forward Thomas Vanek said. "We have to forget about them and start winning again."
Colaiacovo lay on the ice for several minutes, before getting up on his own. He was escorted to the locker room and did not return.
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
|Jay McClement Tripping against Tim Connolly|
|Shaone Morrisonn Hooking against Andy McDonald|
|Andy McDonald Slashing against Jochen Hecht|
|Steve Montador Cross checking against Vladimir Sobotka|
|Jay McClement Hooking against Drew Stafford|
|Mike Weber Tripping against Alexander Steen|
|Thomas Vanek Tripping against Alex Pietrangelo|