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Skinner Rediscovers Game in Sabres’ 3-2 Win in Montreal



Buffalo Sabres Montreal Canadiens game recap

Jeff Skinner came alive Wednesday night, as the Buffalo Sabres were able to hold off the Montreal Canadiens for a 3-2 regulation win. Skinner was rolling all night along with linemates Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch. Whether it was in the offensive zone, defensive zone, or in transition the Sabres’ top line controlled the game and anchored the Buffalo victory.

The Canadiens opened the scoring with a blast from Arber Xhekaj, whose goal and physical play made him a standout player early on. It took until the second period for the Sabres to respond, as Zemgus Girgensons was left all alone in front to tip in a Henri Jokiharju point shot.

Jayden Struble regained the lead for Montreal with a point shot of his own bouncing off Peyton Krebs and into the net. The goal was a little fluky, but the Sabres didn’t let that deter them.

Jeff Skinner cashed in the equalizer nearly halfway through the second on a great rush play with the man advantage. When the Sabres found themselves shorthanded, Alex Tuch poked one free, walked in on the breakaway, and buried his shot for the eventual game-winner.

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Impact Players

The Skinner, Thompson, and Tuch line was Buffalo’s best. Thompson and Skinner were first and third on the team in individual shot quality, per Evolving-Hockey. The trio accounted for two of the three goals, and all three were over 62% in expected goal-share at even strength.

Jacob Bryson and Connor Clifton were also oustanding as a defense pair, with Bryson posting an 87% expected goal-share and Clifton a 77% at even strength. The duo was sheltered a bit, being sent out for the most offensive zone draws, but still did a great job not allowing play the other way.

The Difference

To put it simply, the Sabres seemed to have that extra push versus the Canadiens on Wednesday. Maybe it was the Montreal crowd, or maybe it was having their dads on the road trip, but Buffalo looked determined to win this one.

Unlike the last game, their mistakes didn’t end up in the back of their net. Plays along the boards had that extra effort. The forecheck and backcheck were in full effect. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made the timely saves. In a mostly low-event game, the Sabres did what they needed to do to win.

What’s Next

The Sabres will stay on the road as they head to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets on Friday. The Blue Jackets are in action Wednesday night but headed into the evening 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. Columbus sits dead last in the Eastern Conference, with only 44 points in 54 games played going into Wednesday.