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Sabres Chase Daccord Early; Win 6-2 in Seattle



Buffalo Sabres Seattle Kraken game recap

Two goals in the first minute, a goalie switch under six minutes in, and a Jeff Skinner hat trick were the highlights of a 6-2 Buffalo Sabres victory over the Seattle Kraken. The regulation win puts the Sabres within four points of the new final Wild Card spot holders, the Washington Capitals. The ever-shifting playoff landscape renders the two points ever-important, as the West Coast road trip starts on a positive note.

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Things started rocky for the Sabres, as the Kraken struck 24 seconds into the game. Jordan Eberle was left alone in the slot, and his wrister beat Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen clean. Tage Thompson answered only 25 seconds later, getting the game fast off the blocks. Quick goals by Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch gave the Sabres a solid lead and chased Seattle’s starter Joey Daccord from the net. Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol replaced Daccord with Philipp Grubauer only 5:41 into the game.

Matty Beniers responded with a fluky-looking powerplay goal, getting Seattle back within one before the first intermission.

Sabres goals by Owen Power and Skinner broke the game open in the second period against the Kraken. The extra insurance allowed Buffalo to conserve some energy in the third until Skinner netted his third and final goal of the evening with just under two minutes left in the game.

Impact Players

It’s becoming a little redundant, but Luukkonen was a major factor in Monday’s outcome. Redundancy does not mean he should be taken for granted, however. The Finnish netminder has been the biggest reason for Buffalo’s turnaround. If Devon Levi gets the nod in net Tuesday as expected, he will have big shoes to fill.

Goal-support is a goalie’s best friend, and Jeff Skinner led the way with three. It was a great game for Skinner, who had a massive 95% shot quality share while on the ice. Tage Thompson was also very noticeable with a goal and an assist. The Sabres’ best offensive players need to be a catalyst to finish the season if Buffalo wants to make an honest run at a playoff spot.

The Difference

Sometimes little tweaks are all a team needs, and head coach Don Granato swapped JJ Peterka and Jordan Greenway in their respective places in the lineup.

The result? Three goals over the last two periods.

Peterka notched an assist on Power’s rebound goal. Greenway had a nifty assist for Skinner’s third. After the game, Granato admitted it was a switch he’d thought about for a while.

“I just thought…with different line matchups…thought it could be a good switch for us and it turned out it was.”

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What’s Next

The Sabres hop on a short flight to Vancouver to face one of the NHL’s best teams on Tuesday night. The Canucks haven’t quite been themselves, winning only half of their last 10 contests. Still, Vancouver’s +54 goal-differential is second-best in the league only to the Florida Panthers’ +59.

Thatcher Demko, the Canucks usual starter in net, is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury. This means that the Sabres will likely face backup Casey DeSmith. DeSmith is 48th out of 70 in goals saved above expected by goaltenders who appeared in 10 or more games this season.