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'Dangerous' Olofsson scores twice in preseason win over Leafs

Reinhart tallies 3 points; Ristolainen makes preseason debut

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Should Victor Olofsson ever get his own action movie, we officially have a title. 

The moniker came courtesy of Sabres coach Ralph Krueger following a 5-3 preseason win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday in which Olofsson tallied two goals, including the winner with 2:36 remaining in regulation. 

"Victor is just permanently dangerous," Krueger said. "He's a shooter, which we saw twice today. In practice we've been watching it. We've seen it in the other games already. He's a threat all the time." 

A gut feeling prompted Krueger to put Olofsson on the ice alongside Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart with the game tied late in regulation. Eichel set the winning goal in motion as the first man in the forecheck, poking the puck free to Reinhart in the corner.

Reinhart, who already had a goal and an assist in the game, delivered an immediate pass to the front of the net. The puck glided past Mitch Marner directly onto the stick of Olofsson, who did the rest.

Video: TOR@BUF: Olofsson takes late lead with second goal

"I think Jack was the first guy on the forecheck," Olofsson said. "He worked the puck out to Sam and I kind of saw him turning around, looking where I was even before he got the puck. He just fed me an unbelievable pass. Luckily, it went it."

Olofsson had previously given the Sabres a 2-1 lead on a power play in the second period, stationing himself in the right circle and burying a one-time feed through the middle from Eichel.

Video: TOR@BUF: Olofsson blasts one-timer for PPG

"I'm just trying to find the open lane there," Olofsson explained. "I know he usually finds those passes through, so I've just got to find that lane. He just fed me a great pass. It kind of went between [Jeff] Skinner's legs there and he just kept it going. I just tried to hit the net."

It was a positive step overall for the 24-year-old winger, who's trying to make the opening-night roster following a promising six-game stint with the Sabres to end last season. He proved to be plenty dangerous in Rochester, leading the Amerks with 30 goals and 63 points while adjusting to the North American ice surface and developing his two-way game. 

Olofsson kicked off this season with a standout performance at the Prospects Challenge, where he was leaned on as a leader among the up-and-coming Sabres. He carried that strong early impression into main camp, where he's now appeared in two preseason games. 

"I felt a little bit better all over the ice today than last game versus Columbus," he said. "It was a step in the right way for me."


Rivalry renewed 

Even in the preseason, the rivalry between the Sabres and Maple Leafs seemed to bring a little bit extra from the KeyBank Center crowd. It made for a fun first impression for Krueger, who coached his first game in Buffalo's home building.

"It's an excellent building," Krueger said. "You can really feel the fans. I know when we have a full house, we're going to get this place rocking. It's an excellent atmosphere. I love working in the building. You can feel the spirit already."

Video: Ralph Krueger Postgame (9/21/19)

It helped that the two teams delivered a back-and-forth affair that ultimately ended in a Buffalo win. The Sabres and Maple Leafs traded goals throughout the contest, beginning when John Tavares and Reinhart scored just 2:46 apart in the first period. 

Olofsson and Pierre Engvall traded goals in the second period, sending the teams into the final intermission tied with two goals apiece. Jimmy Vesey put the Sabres ahead once again on a breakaway in the third, sprung free by a long stretch pass from Reinhart, but Trevor Moore answered with his own goal 61 seconds later. 

Video: TOR@BUF: Vesey roofs wrister on breakaway

C.J. Smith capped the scoring with an empty-net goal after Olofsson tallied the winner.

"We're all competitors here," Eichel said. "You've got to want to win every time you go on the ice. No different preseason, regular season, whatever. We're all trying to get better here and prepare ourselves for the season. I thought we did some good things tonight."


Risto's debut

It wouldn't be a Sabres-Leafs game without some theatrics from Rasmus Ristolainen, who made his preseason debut after a minor injury held him out of the team's first two exhibition games. 

Ristolainen drew the Maple Leafs' ire with an open-ice hit on defenseman Tyson Barrie in the third period, which he explained afterward.

"I haven't seen the hit," Ristolainen said. "He was coming down the middle, he didn't keep his head up. I hit him. He was alright. He played the shift after so, all good."

Ristolainen finished the game with 21:38 of ice time, second on the team to fellow defenseman Colin Miller.

"Risto had some aches and pains at the beginning of camp," Krueger said. "They're all gone. He's feeling healthy and it was good to see him in action. He was definitely a huge presence for us out there tonight. It's good to have him on board in every single way."


Up next

Krueger will spend the next 24 hours making decisions on his roster with Amerks camp set to begin on Monday. 

"Tonight's going to be a big night," he said. "We've had 10 unbelievable days of intensity here. In the next 24 hours, we're going to be making some big moves. Rochester's camp starts on Monday. They have games starting Thursday. We need to make this split. 

"It's been a real pleasure to have this whole group here. Everybody's been on board and we've worked really hard. The players who will be going down to Rochester have helped to push the players that will remain here to really work for their spots and for their place. Both our groups have had such a high level of training. I've been really pleased with that. We're going to have two good hockey clubs here."

The Sabres host the Columbus Blue Jackets in their penultimate preseason game on Wednesday. Rick Jeanneret and Rob Ray will have the call, with pregame coverage on MSG beginning at 6:30 p.m. The puck drops at 7. 

Tickets are available here. 

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