It was a tough struggle against the NHL's worst team, but the Buffalo Sabres survived Thursday night to finally post a winning streak in February.
The Sabres held off the Colorado Avalanche, 2-0, before 18,335 in KeyBank to win two games in a row for the first time this month. Sam Reinhart's power-play goal in the first minute of the second gave Buffalo the only offense it would need and Robin Lehner made it stand up for his second shutout of the season.
The Sabres had alternated loss-win for their first eight games in February, going 4-3-1, and had not won consecutive games since taking three in a row from Jan. 20-24.
It was the fifth straight loss for hapless Colorado, which is 0-10-1 in its last 11 games on the road since an overtime win Dec. 23 in Chicago.
Cashing in: The Sabres were 0 for 2 on the power play in the first period but didn't come up empty on their third chance as they opened the scoring on Reinhart's goal at 48 seconds of the second period. Reinhart corraled the rebound of Rasmus Ristolainen's point shot and shoveled the puck between the legs of Colorado goalie Calvin Pickard.
Clinching the win: After a grinding third period, Evander Kane gave the Sabres the breathing room they needed on a goal with 4:14 left, cutting past Avs defenseman Francois Beauchemin and sliding the puck between Pickard's legs. It was Kane's team-high 19th goal of the season -- and NHL-leading 18th at even strength since Dec. 1.
Holding down the fort: Buffalo outshot the Avalanche, 32-23, and Colorado had just 11 shots on goal though the first two periods. The Sabres had given up at least 30 shots on goal for the last 16 games. The number was 40 or above in four of the previous five games.
Kane is able, praises Lehner: Kane returned to the lineup after missing one game due to the flu. Following the morning skate, Kane had big praise for the way Lehner voiced his opinion about the team's 4-2 loss to Vancouver, both after the game Sunday night and again following practice Monday.
Lehner made 39 saves in Buffalo's 3-2 win Tuesday in Ottawa, including all 11 shots he faced during a Senators flurry over the final 5 1/2 minutes of the second period.
"We're pretty good friends off the ice and he's a guy who isn't afraid to say what he thinks and that's what I like about him," Kane said. "When you say something and go out and do it, that way you get respect and you're allowed to say what you want to say because you're going out there and backing it up. I've always been a big believer in talking the talk and walking the walk. It was great to see him do that the other night and come up big for our team. Without him, we probably don't win that game."
Closing in on a century: Ristolainen's assist on Reinhart's goal gave him 99 career points. He has 34 points this year, including a team-high 30 assists.
Knocked from the lineup: Center Derek Grant left the game after the first period with what the team turned a left shoulder injury after taking a hit along the boards. Grant played his 46th game of the season for the Sabres over two stints without scoring a goal.
Busy night from up high: With the NHL trade deadline looming on March 1 and the last-place Avs expected to be major sellers, there were scouts from 18 teams listed on the press box seating chart. While the Sabres have some unresticted free agents they may part with, the Avs could be looking at a trade of captain Gabriel Landeskog or No. 2 center Matt Duchene.
Up next: The Sabres have two more games prior to their bye week, both at home. The St. Louis Blues are here for a matinee Saturday at 1, with Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks here Sunday night at 6. The Sabres resume play after the break Feb. 25 in Denver against the Avalanche.
The Blues, who have been red-hot under new coach Mike Yeo, completed the first sweep of a road trip of more than five games in their 50-year history with Wednesday's 2-0 win in Detroit.