Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson snapped a scoreless tie on a quick snap shot with 5:41 left Saturday night to give the St. Louis Blues a 1-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres before 18,777 in KeyBank Center.
Paul Stastny posted a clean faceoff win over Ryan O'Reilly back to Gunnarsson at the left point and his shot clanked off the crossbar and dropped in the net behind Robin Lehner to give St. Louis the lead. It was the fifth goal of the season for Gunnarsson, a healthy scratch in five of St. Louis' last six games.
The Blues have won 21 of their last 26 meetings against the Sabres since 1998, including both games this year. St. Louis posted a 3-2 overtime victory over Buffalo Dec. 10 in Scottrade Center.
Home woes continue: The Sabres fell to 6-15-3 at home (counting the Winter Classic loss in New York) and failed for the fourth straight time to post the 1,000th home victory in franchise history. They are 0-3 on their current homestand with two games remaining.
Tough luck for Lehner: The Sabres goalie stopped 32 of 33 shots but took the loss. He's made 120 saves on 123 shots over his last four games.
Close calls: St. Louis goalie Carter Hutton made 27 saves -- including a miraculous right skate stop on Sam Reinhart with 31.3 seconds left. Rasmus Ristolainen hit the post with 2.5 seconds left.
No score in the first: The Blues outshot Buffalo, 9-5, in the opening 20 minutes but neither team
could dent the net. The Sabres have been outscored, 47-23, in the first period this season over
their 52 games and the 23 goals are the fewest in any period for any NHL team.
No score in the second: The Blues' advantage was 12-10 in the second period but both teams were again denied. Lehner made a couple of strong saves and Vladimir Tarasenko just failed to get his stick on a tic-tac-toe pass that could have provided a tap-in for him. Marco Scandella had the Sabres' best chance, a shot from the slot that Carter Hutton turned away.
Playing close to the vest: Keeping the game tight was the Sabres' best option in this one as the
Blues were 24-4-1 when scoring first, 17-0-1 when leading after one period and 24-0-1 when leading
Different look in the middle: With Johan Larsson serving a two-game suspension for his cross-check to the face of Florida's Vincent Trocheck here Thursday night, Evan Rodrigues came back into the lineup to take Larsson's spot between Zemgus Girgensons and Jason Pominville.
Rodrigues has two goals in 22 games this season -- and both were in the third period of the Dec.
10 overtime loss in St. Louis. Benoit Pouliot returned to the lineup on the fourth line with Jacob
Josefson and Jordan Nolan.
On D: Nathan Beaulieu got back on the blueline after missing four games with a concussion. He
played on the third pair with Casey Nelson. Josh Gorges and Justin Falk were healthy scratches.
Back to the farm: Nick Baptiste was returned to Rochester so Beaulieu could return off injured
reserve. Baptiste's goal Jan. 25 in Vancouver is his only point in eight games with the Sabres this
Anniversary of huge trade: The game was played on the 25th anniversary of a Sabres-Leafs trade that involved two Hall of Famers. On Feb 3, 1993, the Sabres traded Dave Andreychuk, Daren Puppa and a first-round pick to Toronto for Grant Fuhr and a 1995 fifth-round pick. Fuhr played just 62 games for Buffalo and lost out on the team's No. 1 spot in goal to a relative unknown named Dominik Hasek.
Up next: The Sabres are scheduled to be off Sunday and will return to practice Monday. They host
Ryan Miller and the Anaheim Ducks here Tuesday night. With injured starter John Gibson missing his second straight game, Miller gave up three goals in a 4:03 span of the first period and was pulled Saturday as the Ducks lost at Montreal, 5-2.
The Ducks are 1-1-1 on a five-game road trip that continues Monday in Toronto. Miller is 6-3-5 in
17 games for them this year (12 starts). He has a 2.40 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.