Bar down and in.
Off the toe and out.
Off the post and out.
That's the trio of talking points everyone trudging out of KeyBank Center will ponder from the Sabres' 1-0 loss Saturday night to the St. Louis Blues, a taut thriller where inches made a world of difference.
Bar Down: The Blues won the game on defenseman Carl Gunnarsson's goal with 5:41 left, a snapshot from the left point that clanked off the crossbar and plopped behind Robin Lehner after Paul Stastny's clean faceoff win over Ryan O'Reilly got the puck back to the left point.
Off the Toe: In the dying ticks of a power play with 31 seconds left, Sam Reinhart seemed to have all the net to drive home the tying goal but Blues goalie Carter Hutton denied him via a miraculous save with his right skate.
Off the Post: The Sabres had one last gasp on a faceoff with 8.3 seconds left. O'Reilly won that one and the puck ended up on Rasmus Ristolainen's stick near the blue line. His screened drive made it through but clanked off the right goal post and bounded harmlessly away as the buzzer sounded.
The Sabres have lost three straight, all at home, after going 3-0 on their Western Canada trip and are 14-29-9 on the season. The Blues (32-19-3) have won six of eight and no opponent has scored more than one goal in any of those victories.
The Reinhart save was the game's marquee moment. Some neat passing on the power play, last by Evander Kane, seemingly had Reinhart set up all alone to Hutton's right. Get any lift on the puck at all and it's in. Didn't happen.
"I thought i got a lot on it," Reinhart said. "It's a tough one to swallow at that point of the game. I've got to find a way to put it in the net."
"It was a great play by them," said Hutton. "I try to get my skate to the post all the time and I'm able to just get a little bit of leverage. I think it jams him so he just tries to get it off quick. Luckily enough I get a skate on it and it stays out."
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Lehner said he only had a quick look at the Blues' goal late as the puck came fluttering toward him. Had to be a sickening sound it made as it clanked off the bar.
"It got lost in a few bodies," Lehner said. "Bar and in. Good shot with traffic. It's unfortunate. We had the same thing at the end and it was bar and out."
The two goalies are on spooky similar hot streaks over their last four starts aside from their records (Hutton is 4-0 while Lehner is just 2-2).
Hutton has stopped 121 of 123 shots in posting two shutouts, a 0.50 goals-against average and a .984 save percentage.
Lehner has stopped 120 of 123 with an 0.76 and .976 while also collecting two shutouts in a huge bounceback from his January struggles. He had given up at least three goals in seven of eight starts and got pulled twice. Despite a 2.80 GAA and .914 save percentage on the season, he's the NHL leader in regulation losses with 20.
"He made some key saves for us at critical times in the game," said coach Phil Housley. "He's got to continue to play that way and gain confidence from this game even though we didn't get the result we wanted. I think it was a good step in the right direction. He had command in the net. He was really solid."
Lehner was particularly solid in the third period with key stops in a two-minute span on Vladimir Sobotka, Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko that had the crowd of 18,777 buzzing.
"The first 10 minutes of the third, I don't think I've ever seen a span like that from a goaltender," Reinhart said. "For a bounce the way it did to go into the net, you knew it was going to take that either way."
"It's frustrating. I try to get into practice and keep getting better," Lehner said. "I had a little slump there a couple weeks ago but I'm just trying to give my team a chance to win and I feel like I'm doing that consistently."
The Sabres were shut out for the fourth time this year, all at home, in part because of an 0-for-4 showing on their power play. They got two chances in the final 8 1/2 minutes of this one -- and peppered Hutton with eight shots on goal but couldn't score.
Jack Eichel had seven shots on goal in the game, five in the third as the power play buzzed the St. Louis zone. No dice on this night.
"Those are games where you need to find a way to get a goal, come up big," Eichel said. "Someone's got to step up. Myself, I've got to step up and get something there. I thought I had a couple chances, and credit to the goalie. He made some big saves, but it's frustrating for us. We thought we played a good game, but we've got nothing to show for it, so obviously it's not good enough."