DENVER-- Philipp Grubauer made 18 saves for the Colorado Avalanche in a 3-0 win against the Buffalo Sabres at Pepsi Center on Saturday.
It was the second shutout of the season and eighth in the NHL for Grubauer, whose save total tied for the third fewest (two less than the fewest) in a shutout this season.
[WATCH: All Sabres vs. Avalanche highlights]
"I think they had more shots in the last two minutes than they had the whole game," Grubauer said. "It's a little bit challenging because you don't really get into the game. Mentally, you got to stay on the edge every time. They have guys who can make skill plays and you got to be aware.
"It's actually mentally and physically more challenging than a game where you get 35 or 40 shots. You never know when it's going to come, and you always have to be ready."
Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and two assists, and Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Bourque scored for the Avalanche (30-27-12), who are two points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.
Video: BUF@COL: MacKinnon pots wicked wrist shot
Colorado, which was playing its first game without forward Gabriel Landeskog, who will miss 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury, was 1-3-0 in its previous four games after going 6-1-1 in its previous eight.
"It's good that everyone stepped up," MacKinnon said. "The problem with that is we can't forget that [Landeskog is] not in the lineup and we have to have this same effort to try and fill that void. We can't fill a 35-goal scorer or whatever he was on pace for and 80-something points. I mean, that's elite in this league."
Carter Hutton made 40 saves for the Sabres (30-29-9), who have lost four straight games and are 2-8-2 in their past 12 games. They trail the Columbus Blue Jackets by 10 points for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
The Avalanche outshot the Sabres 43-18 and out-attempted them 76-38.
"I mean, they outworked us," Sabres forward Jack Eichel said. "They were more desperate than we were."
MacKinnon gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead at 3:14 of the second period. He gained possession in the neutral zone, was knocked down by Eichel and then skated across the blue line around Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin before scoring.
"I got cross-checked from behind and I think Dahlin let up a little bit and I managed to take advantage of that," MacKinnon said.
Rantanen made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 10:13 of the third period, scoring from the right face-off circle.
Video: BUF@COL: Rantanen pots 30th goal on power play
Bourque increased the lead to 3-0 with an empty-net goal at 18:50 of the third period.
"Obviously, you try and make adjustments, you try and find ways to get in (their zone)," Sabres forward Jeff Skinner said. "We didn't do a good enough job of creating a forecheck and spending time down there and as a result we defended most of the game and couldn't really get out of our own end."
Grubauer's best save came at 17:30 of the first period when he used his left pad to stop Sam Reinhart on a breakaway after leaving the penalty box.
"The key save for me," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "A big save like that keeps us right where we want to be. That's what you need, you need those key saves. You got to make all the saves you're supposed to make and then a couple game savers.
"That's something we have to have this time of the year. You need better than average goaltending, and we got it today."
Video: Grubauer earns Saturday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout
They said it
"They carried the play pretty much the whole game. If you want to have success, if you want to win, you're not going to be able to rely on all that to get the job done. [Carter Hutton] played well for us today. We kind of hung him out to dry. We have to bear down and play better and spend more time in the offensive end." -- Sabres forward Jeff Skinner
"Start to finish, that might have been our best game all year. (It was) a game we needed to have and we did. This homestand is big for us here. We know the importance of it and we can't worry about scoreboard watching or anything like that; we just have to worry about our games. If we handle that and handle our business at home, hopefully we are where we want to be at the end of the season." -- Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson
Need to know
The Avalanche have three 30-goal scorers (MacKinnon, 35; Landeskog, 33; Rantanen, 30) for the first time since 1995-96 when they had four (Joe Sakic, 51; Claude Lemieux, 39; Valeri Kamensky, 38; Peter Forsberg, 30). … MacKinnon has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his past eight games. … Rantanen has 10 points (six goals, four assists) in his past 10 games. … Bourque's goal was his first of the season (42 games) and first in 69 games since Feb. 11, 2018 against the Sabres.
Sabres: Host the Dallas Stars on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, FS-SW+, NHL.TV)
Avalanche: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday (9 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-CR, NHL.TV)
Video: MacKinnon, Rantanen score in Avalanche win