The Buffalo Sabres had a few glorious chances to score Thursday night. However, they were unable to beat Jake Allen and were shutout for an NHL-high ninth time.
On the other end, Jhonas Enroth did what he could to keep St. Louis off the scoresheet, holding them to a 1-0 lead through two periods. However in the third, the Blues scored twice, including an empty netter to pull away with a 3-0 victory at First Niagara Center.
Enroth finished with 27 saves on 29 shots while Allen stopped all 23 shots he faced.
Buffalo’s golden opportunities started in the first period when Nicolas Deslauriers and Torrey Mitchell were unable to get the puck over Allen’s pad midway through the opening period and carried through to the third period.
In the second period, Chris Stewart had a breakaway with 7:32 left, tried to go five-hole but was denied by Allen. He later had an opportunity in tight on which he drew a penalty.
Then at the 7:13 mark of the third period, Brian Flynn skated in alone shorthanded and Allen denied him not once by twice.
“We definitely had our chances,” Stewart said. “We could’ve tied it up or taken the lead there in the second. But that’s how it goes. Good goaltenders steal games for teams. You definitely don’t want to make that a habit. At the end of the day, it wasn’t good enough.”
‘WE WERE RIGHT THERE’
The Sabres power play went 0-for-2 on the night and Sabres forward Tyler Ennis thought that’s where he could have helped make a bigger difference.
“We were right there. If our PP gets one, if we bury a couple chances, it’s a different game,” he said. “So we’ll work on that tomorrow and move forward.”
Defenseman Tyler Myers talked about how the team needs to do a better job with their dump-ins and breakouts. Mistakes have continually cropped up for the Sabres all season and culminated in a 14-game losing streak that the team was able to snap Tuesday night in Montreal.
But after the game against St. Louis, many of the same problems seemed to creep up until Buffalo was able to lock it down a bit and skate with the Blues.
“We had some pretty good chances but I think with our group, it comes down to supporting each other and plays at the blue lines,” Myers said. “Better support in the zone will lead to less turnovers coming out and it seems a little bit like with our group right, we’re getting it out and it’s coming right back in. It’s tough to play that way.”
The Sabres have scored a League-low 1.75 goals per game through 52 games this season. Stewart, who has had two 28-goal seasons in his career, described the lack of offense across the board as “frustrating.” He has nine goals this year, including four in his past six games.
“It’s the fact we know we can put the puck in the net, I think that makes that worse,” he said. “It’s not about the personnel here. It’s about getting hungry in those areas and putting those pucks in the net.
“There are good goalies in this League. No one’s gonna hand you no free goals so you’ve got to go to those tough areas and even when you have him beat, you’ve gotta bear down. You’ve got to put it through the net, especially when you’re struggling.”
LIGHTING THE LAMP
The Blues finally broke through when Dmitrij Jaskin scored the game’s opening goal with 1:56 remaining in the second period.
Patrick Berglund won the faceoff to the right of Enroth and Ty Rattie got the puck back to Chris Butler. Butler’s shot deflected wide right and to the end boards where Jaskin picked it up. Jaskin swung around from behind the net to tuck it in for his sixth goal of the season.
Vladimir Tarasenko made it 2-0 with 5:28 remaining in regulation and then Justin Scwhartz put home an empty net goal 1:18 left.
A MEASURING STICK
The Blues are currently tied for the League-lead with 72 points and have won 12 of their past 13 games. While at the end of the day, the two points on the line are what matter the most, Nolan liked the way his team hung with one of the NHL’s best.
“This is a team that’s designed to win the Stanley Cup and once we got used to the pace, I felt we played as well as we could,” Nolan said. “To sit down and watch and compete with them is a good sign for our young team to know that’s how much further we have to go.”
What is it about the Blues that Nolan would like his club to learn from and try to emulate?
“They don’t take any shifts off. They go at you; they go at you hard,” he said. “They have a guy like Steve Ott sitting on the fourth line, you know how deep they are. The way they pursue a puck, they pursue it with the best I’ve seen in this League.
“And to move it quick and make sure you know where you’re going with that puck when you get it is very important. They do it well and I thought as the game went, we did it pretty well too.”
COMIN’ UP NEXT
Buffalo continues its five-game homestand Saturday night when the Lindy Ruff-coached Dallas Stars come to town for a 7 p.m. faceoff. The Tops Gamenight pregame show begins at 6:30 p.m. on MSG-B. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.