WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The MTS Centre had been a black hole for the Buffalo Sabres since the Winnipeg Jets returned to the NHL in 2011. The Sabres dropped their first five games here, scoring just four goals in the process.
The league's tiniest building can be one of the loudest, so an early lead is paramount. The Sabres did that in January, when they finally broke through here for a 4-2 victory. And there were full marks for silencing the masses Sunday afternoon, taking charge with two goals midway through the first period and holding on to post a 3-1 victory.
After opening the season 1-3-2, the Sabres got back to .500 with two wins in 24 hours. Kyle Okposo led the way in this one by scoring two goals and Robin Lehner returned to the net after 10 days out of the lineup due to the flu and made 37 saves in goal. Winnipeg had a 38-28 edge in shots, including 17-7 in the third period.
The Big O, Part I: Okposo put the Sabres on top at 10:51 of the first period, taking a pass from Zemgus Girgensons on a 2-on-2 break. He moved into the Winnipeg zone and his shot was blocked by Tobias Enstrom but bounced right back to him. Okposo fired again, beating Michael Hutchinson high over the shoulder.
The Big O, Part II: Okposo made it 3-0 at 13:59 of the second period on a sensational passing play. Cody Franson moved the puck to Ryan O'Reilly and the Buffalo center fired a long stretch pass to find Okposo breaking into the Winnipeg zone. Going through the left circle on his off wing, Okposo blasted a quick snap shot under Hutchinson's arm to KO the Winnipeg starter from the game and bring in Connor Hellebuyck.
The Captain connects: In between Okposo's goals, Brian Gionta scored his third of the season, beating Hutchinson to his own rebound at 12:49 of the first and giving the Sabres a 2-0 lead.
Success against the Jets (and don't forget the Atlanta Thrashers): The Sabres have won three straight against the Jets/Thrashers for the first time since Feb. 23-Nov. 8, 2011, and this is the first time they've won consecutive road games against the franchise since winning in Atlanta's Phillips Arena on March 17, 2004 and Jan. 31, 2006.
PK power: After getting burned for three goals in the third period of Tuesday's collapse in Philadelphia, the Buffalo penalty killers have gone 12 for 12. The Sabres killed off all four penalties they took in Saturday's win over Florida and went 6 for 6 here Sunday.
First month is a split: Getting eight points in eight October games (3-3-2) marked the Sabres' best record in the season's opening month since they went 6-4 in 2011. Buffalo's last three Octobers were 4-7 last year, 2-8-1 in 2014-15 and 2-12-1 in 2013-14.
The shutout gone: Nikolaj Ehlers got the Jets on board at 4:49 of the third period, taking Blake Wheeler's missed shot off the backboards and beating Lehner after the Sabres had played more than five periods without allowing a goal.
Go West: The Sabres have played five of their first eight games this season against the Western Conference, going 2-2-1 in them. The Sabres have 14 games in November and only three of them are against the West.
Up Next: The Sabres headed to Minnesota immediately after the game, where they will practice on Monday and meet the Wild in a rematch Tuesday night at XCel Energy Center in St. Paul. Minnesota blanked Buffalo, 4-0, Thursday night in KeyBank Center.