SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Sabres finally picked up a meaningful souvenir on their trip through California – a victory.
Buffalo ended a four-game losing streak this afternoon by dispatching struggling San Jose, 2-1. It was the Sabres’ first regulation victory of the year and improved their record to 2-7. The Sharks dropped their fourth straight to disappoint the SAP Center crowd of 17,370.
The win gave Buffalo reason to smile on the long flight home after losses in Anaheim and Los Angeles. The Sabres are off until Tuesday, when they play in Toronto. The next home game is Thursday against Boston.
There have been more thrilling games played in the Shark Tank. Through the first 40 minutes, that would probably account for all of them.
It took nearly 34 scoreless minutes for one team to finally reach double digits in shots, with San Jose’s power-play attempt giving it a 10-8 edge. Buffalo led, 7-5, after one period and the Sharks pulled in front after two, 14-9.
While the low shot totals were a good sign for a Buffalo team desperately struggling to keep opponents away from its goalie, the crowd in the normally deafening arena sat in bored silence.
Out of nowhere, the teams combined for three goals in 2:27 of the third period. Buffalo scored the first two, with two players getting rid of the zeroes in their goal column.
Cody Hodgson opened the scoring with 16:17 left. Drew Stafford’s pass to the front struck a San Jose skate, and Hodgson calmly picked it up and went around goalie Alex Stalock with a backhand.
Stalock muffed an easy shot to put Buffalo in front by two. Cody McCormick’s shot from the left circle went through the goalie’s arm and sat in the crease, allowing Nicolas Deslauriers to stuff it home with 14:03 to go.
Sabres rookie Sam Reinhart picked up the secondary assist for his first NHL point.
The Sabres enjoyed their two-goal lead for only 13 seconds. Brent Burns finally gave the Shark Tank something to cheer about as his shot from the blue line went through the tangled duo of Tommy Wingels and Tyler Myers and past goalie Michal Neuvirth.
Neuvirth finished with 29 saves, while Stalock had 13.