In order to extend their winning streak, the Sabres needed a victory against a team they hadn't beat since 2009.
The drought is over.
Buffalo won its third straight Saturday, earning a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. The Sabres carried a 3-1 lead into the third period, and Robin Lehner made 16 of his 37 saves in the final 20 minutes to close out the win.
The Blues had won nine straight against Buffalo as part of a 19-2 run. The Sabres' last victory in the series was a 5-3 decision Dec. 27, 2009, in St. Louis.
Buffalo improved to 26-23-10 overall and 7-2-1 in the last 10 games in KeyBank Center.
Sick Sam: The Sabres skated without second-leading scorer Sam Reinhart, who missed the game with an illness. It was the first game Reinhart sat out this season.
Quality replacement: The Sabres recalled right wing Nick Baptiste to take Reinhart’s place, and it paid off. Baptiste slid into Reinhart’s spot alongside center Jack Eichel and left wing Evander Kane, and he recorded a goal and assist for his first multipoint game.
Quick start: The Blues overwhelmed the Sabres at the drop of the puck. They forced Buffalo into a penalty, but no one ever went to the box. With goaltender Jake Allen on the bench during the delayed call, St. Louis sniper Vladimir Tarasenko took a pass in the right circle, got Robin Lehner moving and fired short-side with just 1:31 gone.
Tie game: Eichel carried the puck into St. Louis’ zone, and Baptiste streaked behind the defenders. The winger took Eichel’s pass and promptly slipped it between the pads of Jake Allen to tie the game, 1-1, with 9:34 gone.
It was the third goal in 13 NHL games for Baptiste. He is eighth in the American Hockey League with 18 goals.
First to 20: Kane continued his hot streak with 8:02 left in the second and became a 20-goal scorer for the third time. The left winger reached out to tip Zach Bogosian’s point shot, extending his lead in the Sabres’ goal-scoring race. Kane scored 20 goals last year and potted a career-high 30 in 2011-12 with Winnipeg.
O’Reilly factor: Ryan O’Reilly’s first drive resulted in a five-on-three power play. His second resulted in a 3-1 lead. Less than 30 seconds after forcing Scottie Upshall into a hooking penalty, O’Reilly faked a shot at the top of the slot, skated into the right circle and beat Allen on the far side.
The goal with 31.3 seconds left in the second contributed to a standing ovation from the fans as Buffalo headed into intermission.
Not done: The Blues' penalty killers put a scare into the crowd with 4:57 left. Upshall intercepted a slow pass by Kyle Okposo and raced to the Buffalo end for a short-handed goal, cutting St. Louis' deficit to 3-2.
Milestone: Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen assisted on O’Reilly’s goal, giving him 100 career points.
False start: After Doug Allen completed the national anthems, the referees announced the Zamboni would have to take another spin because the ice was “compromised.” The players remained on the bench for the resurfacing.
Hello, goodbye: The Sabres welcomed back defenseman Cody Franson, who had missed four games with a foot injury. He skated alongside Zach Bogosian.
Rather than keep eight defensemen, the Sabres waived Taylor Fedun. The blue-liner has seven assists and a plus-3 rating in 25 games with Buffalo. The other teams will have until noon Sunday to claim Fedun. If no one does, he can report to Rochester.
Counting the house: The Sabres announced a sellout with 19,070 tickets sold for the matinee.
Next: The Sabres host another Western Conference powerhouse as the Chicago Blackhawks visit at 6 p.m. Sunday. Following the game, Buffalo will shut it down for five days with its inaugural bye week. The Sabres will resume the schedule Saturday in Colorado.