Timely offense, plenty of goaltending. Good combination for the Buffalo Sabres.
Evander Kane and Jake McCabe notched second-period goals and Chad Johnson was outstanding in net with 44 saves for his first Buffalo shutout as the Sabres blanked the Anaheim Ducks, 3-0, Thursday night before 18,801 in First Niagara Center.
The Sabres won for the third time in four games with a nice bounceback from Tuesday's sleepy 2-0 loss to New Jersey. The Ducks, a Stanley Cup favorite in virtually every preseason publication, remain stuck in last place in the Pacific Division and 28th overall. They have lost two straight and scored just five goals in their last five games.
- Game feature by Mike Harrington: Johnson outstanding in net as Sabres feast on cold Ducks
- Sabres notebook by Amy Moritz: Anaheim hasn’t had its Ducks in a row this season
- Photo gallery by Mark Mulville: Sabres 3, Ducks 0
Shot clock: Anaheim outshot Buffalo, 44-22, and the margin was 19-6 in the third period. The Ducks, in fact, had the first 12 shots of the stanza but Johnson held the fort with several good saves. Of Anaheim's 25 shots in the first two periods, many were from long range and few were dangerous.
Fortuitous foot: The Sabres opened the scoring at 2:36 of the second period as Kane deflected home a pass from Jack Eichel, who fired a flip shot to the right of the goal from near the left point. Kane tried to deflect the puck with his stick and missed, but the puck struck his right skate and skittered into the net. He had not scored in his previous six games.
Eichel report: The assist on the Kane goal ended Eichel's pointless streak at five games, the longest of his rookie season. Eichel has just one goal in his last 10 games, none over his last six. He has nine goals and six assists on the season.
McCabe magic: Defenseman Jake McCabe got his third goal of the season at 13:35 of the second period, taking a neat backhand pass from Cal O'Reilly and one-timing a shot past Anaheim goalie and former Team USA World Junior Championship teammate John Gibson. It was O'Reilly's first point with the Sabres and first point in the NHL since he had an assist for Pittsburgh in 2012.
Duck Soup: Jamie McGinn got the insurance tally with 6:10 left as Rasmus Ristolainen charged into the zone and fed him in the slot. McGinn forged another tie with Kane and Ristolainen, all with seven goals.
Trouble for openers: The Sabres' second scoreless first period in as many games continued to leave them at minus-13 in the first period. They have been outscored, 27-14, in the opening stanza, second-worst in the league to Philadelphia in both goals and differential. But Buffalo is plus-2 in periods 2-3.
Contrasting schedules: It was the Sabres' ninth game in December and they are 4-4-1. It was just the fifth game of the month for the Ducks, who are 2-3.
Duck Quacks: It was coach Bruce Boudreau's 300th game with Anaheim, although his longevity would seem tenuous with the Ducks at this point. It was center Andrew Cogliano's 652nd consecutive game, the seventh-longest run in NHL history and No. 2 from the start of his career to all-time record holder Doug Jarvis' 964 games with three teams from 1975-1987.
Nearing a return: Forward Tyler Ennis, who missed his 12th straight game with an upper-body injury, took the morning skate fully and is scheduled to go through a full practice Friday. It's conceivable he could be back in the lineup here Saturday afternoon against Chicago. The Sabres scratched forward Marcus Foligno, who missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury, and healthy defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo.
Up Next: It's the big one. The matinee of the season. Saturday at 1, Patrick Kane and the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks are in town for their only appearance of the season. A check of the Sabres' seat map early Thursday evening showed fewer than 400 tickets remain. It is the second of two Platinum-priced affairs on their variable scale for single-game tickets. The other was the season opener against Ottawa. The Chicago game will mark the final contest for the team before the NHL's mandated Christmas break that runs Dec. 23-25.