LOS ANGELES — On Oct. 23, 2003, LeBron James was six days away from making his NBA debut with the Cleveland Cavaliers. That's the last time the Buffalo Sabres won in Staples Center.
Until it happened Saturday. And it came in a game that wrapped up a scant four hours before The King made his debut in the building for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Sabres were kings of the ice in this one as they got a hat trick from Jeff Skinner, three assists from Jack Eichel and three points from Jason Pominville in a 5-1 win over Los Angeles.
The Sabres were 0-5-1 in their last six visits to Staples since another 5-1 win over Los Angeles in '03. Until suffering a 4-2 defeat here last October, the Sabres had lost four straight 2-0 decisions in the building.
The home team had won 15 straight meetings in the series until Los Angeles broke through for a 4-2 win at KeyBank Center in February. That's the game most remembered for the press box suite door slam by General Manager Jason Botterill that showed his frustration with his last-place club as it fell behind, 4-0, in the second period.
You wonder what Los Angeles GM Rob Blake was doing in this one as the Kings got schooled less than 48 hours after a 7-2 home loss to the New York Islanders.
And it was quite a reversal in the second period from February. This time, it was the Sabres pulling away with three goals as Buffalo outshot Los Angeles, 13-3, and sent the Kings off with the ice with the boos of the crowd ringing in their ears.
The Sabres evened their record at 4-4 and are 2-2 on their Western road trip. Los Angeles fell to 2-5-1.
Pommer Power: Jason Pominville enjoyed his move to the top line with Skinner and Jack Eichel by collecting a goal and two assists. Pominville opened the scoring at 10:24 of the first as Jack Eichel took multiple whacks of the puck in the Kings' zone and the final one went in off Pominville's skate.
Spirit of 700: Pominville's three points gave him 700 for his NHL career. He joined Kings sniper Ilya Kovalchuk and Dallas' Jason Spezza as the only players from the 2001 draft with 700 points. Kovalchuk and Spezza were taken 1-2 — while Pominville was taken at No. 55.
By the Skins of his stick: Skinner pushed Buffalo into a 2-0 lead at 3:31 of the second period by beating forward Nate Thompson around the net and patiently pulling the puck in front before shooting it past Jonathan Quick. Skinner made it 3-0 at 15:52 on a classic wraparound, easily beating Quick to the post to the goalie's left and stuffing the puck home.
The hat trick: Skinner hit the empty net with 24.9 seconds left. The Kings had played 6-on-5 since there were about four minutes to go in the period.
One for good measure: The Sabres made it 4-0 with 14.1 seconds left in the period as Zach Bogosian's routine shot from the right boards caromed off the post and by a surprised Quick for Bogosian's first goal of the season. It was Bogosian's first goal since March 27, 2017 against Florida.
Eight for eight: The streak continues. In every Sabres game this season, the team that scored the first goal never gave up the lead. That's correct: There has yet to be a tying goal in any Buffalo game.
Offensive offense: The Kings entered the game 29th in the NHL in scoring at two goals per game (14 in 7). Things got no better Saturday, making defenseman Drew Doughty's words after practice Friday seem prophetic.
"It's frustrating not scoring," Doughty said. "You can say 'stick to your game plan' but when you're not scoring, it's hard to do."
Doughty got the only Los Angeles goal, on a power play with 7:44 left. It denied Linus Ullmark two shutouts in two starts for the Sabres this season. Eden native Alex Iafallo got an assist on the goal.
On the blueline: Nathan Beaulieu sat out the game for what coach Phil Housley termed a "maintenance" day. Housley did not know if Beaulieu could play Sunday in Anaheim. Casey Nelson took Beaulieu's place.
"It's just a day to day thing," Housley said. "We're going to have to make some decisions tomorrow. Hopefully we get the outcome we want tonight but it's a day-by-day process."
Back in the lineup: Patrik Berglund, a healthy scratch Thursday in San Jose, returned for the Sabres. So did Johan Larsson, who sat out three straight. Remi Elie sat for the fourth time this season and Tage Thompson took a seat for the first time. Thompson has no points in seven games and has played fewer than 12 minutes in five of them.
Up next: The Sabres took a short bus ride to Anaheim to meet the Ducks Sunday night at 8 p.m. Eastern (5 p.m. Pacific). Former Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller is expected to get the start for the Ducks, who played starter John Gibson Saturday night in Vegas.