Share this article

print logo

Sabres' road trip reaches new low as Victor Olofsson is injured during collapse in Arizona

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There are bad periods and then there is the complete disaster the Buffalo Sabres endured Saturday night in Gila River Arena.

The Sabres gave up three goals in the first 7 1/2 minutes of the second period -- and lost winger Victor Olofsson to an ugly-looking right leg injury in that same span -- as they blew a 2-0 lead and went on to lose to the Arizona Coyotes, 5-2.

Clayton Keller scored two goals and Jordan Oesterle had an goal and an assist for Arizona, which swept its two games against Buffalo this season by overcoming a two-goal deficit in both matchups. The Coyotes also gave up the first two goals to the Sabres in the Oct. 28 game in KeyBank Center but rallied for a 3-2 shootout victory.

Olofsson's leg crumbled after an innocuous collision with Coyotes forward Brad Richardson along the boards in front of the Arizona bench. He hobbled to the bench, needing a lift over the boards, and then headed immediately down the tunnel. Olofsson had just returned to the lineup Feb. 13 after missing 15 games with a high ankle sprain. He's third on the team in goals (19) and points (40).

"At the moment, it was definitely a disappointing moment for the team," said coach Ralph Krueger. "We certainly hope it's not a serious situation here. We'll know more tomorrow."

The loss dropped the Sabres to 0-3 on their road trip, which ends Tuesday in Winnipeg. The Sabres have fallen to sixth in the Atlantic Division, 13th in the Eastern Conference and 24th overall in the NHL, ahead of Chicago only on tiebreakers.

A pall hung over the dressing room after this one, more than any time this season. Several players sat stunned at their lockers and captain Jack Eichel conducted a brief interview with the media still in full equipment except for his helmet.

"We're 0-3. No points. So there's no real good moments," Eichel said. "... Big picture (stinks) obviously. You come to win every game, you lose three and that's not what you want to do."

Eichel, who continues to battle a core muscle injury, and Sam Reinhart are both minus-6 on the trip with no points in any of the three games.

The second-period outburst: Oesterle beat Jonas Johansson at 2:20 of the second period to cut Buffalo's lead to 2-1 and Phil Kessel put in his own rebound at 3:13. Johansson's turnover behind the net led to Clayton Keller's goal at 7:30 that put Arizona in front.

"There was some fatigue or something that showed up in the minds," Krueger said. "Because we just lost our game for about 5-6 minutes there and it was hard to get it back."

"They scored one and we kind of stopped playing instead of settling things down," said center Marcus Johansson. "It kind of snowballed and they got three. You're not going to play a perfect game. It's OK for them to score one. We've just go to try to settle down and get back to our game."

The clinchers: Keller put Arizona up by two with 6:01 left, converting a 2-on-1 break by beating Jonas Johansson through the legs. Oliver Ekman-Larsson hit the empty net on a 190-foot shot with 20 seconds left.

"We feel pain right now," Krueger said. "There's nothing I can say that's going to make this pretty but we definitely will stay on the growth path we are on."

Stellar first: The Sabres opened the scoring at 7:59 of the first period when Marcus Johansson curled the puck around Arizona goalie Antti Raanta after taking a pass from Dominik Kahun, who stole the puck down low. The score went to 2-0 at 8:43 on Skinner's 14th, as he deflected home Wayne Simmonds' backhand out of mid air.

Notes on offense: Skinner has three goals in five games and has goals in back-to-back games for the first time since Oct. 19 and 22. Simmonds' assist was his first point with the Sabres and the 499th point of his NHL career.

Skinner on the loss: "They've got some skill guys, got a little bit of momentum there and we weren't able to shut it down. We were down one goal in the third and they probably did what we should have done to them. They kept us to the outside."

Strong PK: The Sabres killed off both penalties against them in the first period, bucking the trend that had dropped them into last place in the NHL overall and on the road. Jonas Johansson's best save on that power play came on a Kessel wrist shot from the faceoff circle and Brandon Montour alertly cleared away the rebound.

Strong in goal: Jonas Johansson's came up big with his glove as he got a piece of Lawson Crouse's shot on a short-handed breakaway after Eichel fumbled the puck at the Coyotes blueline.

The lineup: Michael Frolik and Lawrence Pilut remained the healthy scratches. Krueger made a minor tweak to his defense pairings, moving Rasmus Dahlin with Rasmus Ristolainen and putting Brandon Montour with Colin Miller.

In the house: As is always the case here, there were plenty of Buffalo fans in the stands among the announced sellout crowd of 17,125. Retired Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander was at the game and so were Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famers Torey Lovullo and Jim Rosenhaus. Lovullo is now the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks and his wife, Kristen, is a Buffalo-area native. Rosenhaus is entering his 14th season as a broadcaster with the Cleveland Indians.

Next: The Sabres will take Sunday off but stay in the Arizona sunshine for the day. They will fly to Winnipeg Monday morning and practice there in the afternoon before meeting the Jets in the finale of the trip on Tuesday night.

Story topics: / /

There are no comments - be the first to comment