20240411 Postgame Web

Rasmus Dahlin laid out the Buffalo Sabres’ intentions for their final three games of the season following the team’s morning skate at KeyBank Center on Thursday.

“This is a time to show up and compete as hard as we can," the Sabres' alternate captain said. "We’re still playing hockey games and we still represent the city and the Sabres, so we have to give 110-percent, like always.”

Despite being eliminated from playoff contention on Tuesday, the Sabres put together a complete performance against the Washington Capitals on Thursday, winning 4-2 in their final home game of the season.

Alex Tuch, Zach Benson, Jack Quinn, and Dylan Cozens all scored for Buffalo while goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 22 of 24 shots in his 50th start of the season on Fan Appreciation Night.

“It was a good win,” Tuch said. “It’s not easy coming in and showing up for games like this. Fan Appreciation Night, so it was a little thank you to the fans for sticking with us.”

The Sabres closed out a tight first period with a 1-0 lead after Benson deflected a shot by Jeff Skinner into the net with one minute remaining in the period.

Tuch scored with 7:23 to go in the second to put the Sabres up by two, but the Capitals answered back with a goal from Connor McMichael just under two minutes later to bring Washington within one.

Buffalo reclaimed its two-goal lead at the 9:46 mark of the third period when Quinn dragged the puck out of the reach of Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen and buried a wrist shot from the slot. Cozens added an empty-net goal with 2:17 remaining to give the Sabres a 4-1 lead before Tom Wilson tacked on a late tally for the game’s final goal.

“That was a very challenging first period,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I thought our guys were excellent in defending and then I thought our second period was great, but there’s no doubt we had to dial it in today. Credit to our guys, they did. … I liked the fight through the start, I liked the fight to finish, and the middle period was real good.”

Don Granato addresses the media

Quinn felt the team stayed composed and continued to play its game throughout the night.

“I think we just stuck with it,” he said. “We didn’t try to force it. We were able to play that game as well and just kind of take what was given, and eventually we wore on them and were able to get a couple.

“Obviously, we’re not happy we’re eliminated but, I mean, we still love the game, and we love to compete so it’s no different. Go out there and have fun and do our best to win.”

Jack Quinn addresses the media

Here’s more from the victory.

1. Tuch scored to extend his point streak to five games, tallying eight points (3+5) in that span. The forward now leads the Sabres with 59 points (22+37) in 73 games in 2023-24.

Tuch’s goal came with 7:23 remaining in the second as he received a feed in the slot from Henri Jokiharju and buried a wrist shot blocker side.

2. Prior to the game, Tuch was named the recipient of the Rick Martin Memorial Award for the second consecutive season, as voted on by the fans.

“The Rico” is presented annually to the player who fans believe best embodies what it means to be a Buffalo Sabre based on on-ice excellence, resiliency, and dedication to the community.

Tuch also introduced the Sabres’ 2023-24 Fan of the Year in a special pregame video honoring Sergeant Thomas Sanfratello, who was a lifelong Sabres fan and season ticket member from 1986 to 1996. Sergeant Sanfratello was tragically killed in the line of duty on March 10, 2004 at the age of 54. He shared his love for the team with his oldest son Ian, who will help keep his father’s memory alive through his continued support of the Sabres.

We are proud to honor Sergeant Thomas Sanfratello

3. The Sabres ended their home campaign with wins in nine of their last 12 games inside KeyBank Center.

“That’s an absolute positive that you finish with that record at home,” Granato said. “They know it. Henri Jokiharju was handed the sword for the player of the game in that locker room, and he said very little, but he did reference the fact that it was big to win at home and we need to do that next season. So, clearly that locker room is very well aware of that.”

4. Benson's goal marked his sixth point in the last five games and 10th goal of his rookie season. 

"Personally, when I see it, it’s nice to see," Granato said. "A guy gets into double digits and you factor in his age and in no way, shape, or form did we think he would be on our roster before training camp started when we drafted him last June. You just don’t think a kid that age can do it. But he has been impressive from day one of training camp and that was a big goal tonight, a real big goal in an area that’s a gritty, tough area, the front of the net. He found his way there and he’s proven that he’s belonged here this year.”

5. T.J. Oshie laid out a hit on Tage Thompson in the final seconds of the game, which ignited a scrum at the final horn as Dahlin came to his defense. Thompson ended up fighting Max Pacioretty while Jordan Greenway fought Tom Wilson. 

Granato loved the group's response to the hit, which he felt was "extra." 

"All five guys. That’s what I liked, all five guys," he said. "I think it was Thompson who took a hit that was, it was extra. It was a late-game hit when basically the game was over and it was Dahls who came in on that, and that’s when everything started. But I loved the fact that all five of those guys were involved, involved very quick, decisively, and loved it. Loved everything about it.”

Up next

The Sabres kick off their final road trip of the season in Florida on Saturday.

Pregame coverage on MSG/MSG+ begins at 4:30 p.m. with puck drop scheduled for 5. Radio coverage can be found on WGR 550.