DENVER — When you step back from the disappointment of Thursday's 5-4 shootout loss in Chicago, the Buffalo Sabres had one major component of their game they had to like.
Their top line of Jeff Skinner-Jack Eichel-Sam Reinhart had no goals in the game but was certainly active with 10 shots on goal and 17 shot attempts. But it was the rest of the roster that got things done.
Four goals, 29 shots on goal and 47 attempts. Zach Bogosian's first career short-handed goal. Two goals from the defense for the first time since Jan. 16. Two assists from Evan Rodrigues. Even Vladimir Sobotka's first non-garbage time goal since November.
"It was really good for us," center Casey Mittelstadt said Friday after practice in Pepsi Center. "There's always things we can do better. But it's good to see other guys scoring and help them get some momentum."
"Especially as of late, we've done a good job having secondary scoring. It's getting better," Rodrigues said. "'Eichs' has been hot but throughout the lineup we've helped contribute."
The Sabres will be looking for more of that Saturday afternoon when they meet the suddenly depleted Colorado Avalanche. The Avs announced Friday afternoon that captain and top line winger Gabriel Landeskog is going to miss four to six weeks, likely the rest of the regular season, with what appears to be a shoulder injury suffered Thursday in Dallas.
Landeskog had career highs in goals (33) and points (69) and has been a key member of one of the NHL's hottest lines with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen.
The Avs, like the Sabres, have struggled at times with balance in their offense. The Sabres, meanwhile, have gotten a boost in recent games from the addition of defenseman Brandon Montour, who scored his second goal with Buffalo on Thursday.
"He's so dynamic," Rodrigues said. "He makes plays out of nothing, gets a couple crossovers with his stride and it seems he can beat most defensemen wide with the puck. He had a little bit of speed, something different. When he gets the puck, there's excitement going through the team that's pretty refreshing."
"It's going well," Montour said. "It's just me getting familiar with them and them seeing what I bring for my style. You create relationships, see the whole organization and I wanted to get back to the way I was playing in Anaheim."
Montour's goal came on a laser from the slot and he clearly fooled Chicago goalie Corey Crawford with a lookaway that indicated pass before he fired his shot.
"The defenseman kind of screened him as well but I think he might have been reading me for a pass first," Montour said. "I put a little fake on him and luckily enough it went in."
— Buffalo Sabres plays and goals (@SabresPlays) March 8, 2019
The Sabres are 1-4-1 in their last six games but are averaging three goals per game in that span. It hasn't been good enough because they're giving up 4.5 per game.
"We've been scoring enough to win," said coach Phil Housley. "It goes back to playing better without the puck."
Mittelstadt on the wing?
Housley gave Mittelstadt some reps at left wing in Friday's practice on a line with Johan Larsson and Jason Pominville but wouldn't commit to the move for the game.
"Just wanted to see how it looked," the coach said.
Same for his change at defense pairs, which flipped Marco Scandella and Rasmus Dahlin. Dahlin moved to play with Rasmus Ristolainen while Scandella was paired with Casey Nelson.
Avs' top line
The Avalanche entered Friday four points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot but the Landeskog injury could be a crushing blow. Even more weight will be on Mikko Rantanen (29-56-85) and Nathan MacKinnon (34-50-84).
"You have to be aware of MacKinnon's speed and try to stop him in the neutral zone so he doesn't get that momentum," Rodrigues said. "Once you give him that time and space, no matter how good you are, it's going to be difficult stopping him."
Rantenen's next goal will give the Avs three 30-goal scorers for the first time since their 1995-96 Stanley Cup team.
The Avalanche, who posted a 6-1 win Oct. 11 in Buffalo, started the season 16-6-5. They are just 13-21-7 since.
Pumped by Bogosoian's goal
Rodrigues said he was skating to the bench during the rush that led to Bogosian's nifty short-handed goal that gave the Sabres a 3-2 lead in the second period.
"I watched it gliding in," he said. "I got there and I was like, 'Whoa, we scored.' I was fired up. It was a sick goal."