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Sabres Lose 3-2 to Canucks Despite Dahlin Desperation Goals



Buffalo Sabres Vancouver Canucks game recap

The Buffalo Sabres struggled all night in their 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. Rasmus Dahlin scored a late four-on-four goal and a last-minute goal to keep the Sabres within one, but it was too little, too late. The loss comes on the second night of back-to-back games on the road, as the Sabres beat the Kraken Monday night in Seattle.

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The Sabres had a couple of early powerplays to set a tone against one of the league’s best teams but failed to score. Instead, it was the Canucks who struck first, with Conor Garland stuffing in a goal at the post as he out-muscled Devon Levi’s pad. The goal was challenged by Buffalo, but the call on the ice stood.

The Canucks were the lone scorers in the second period as well, as Elias Pettersson and company were able to solve the hot penalty kill of the Sabres. Going into the third period down two is never good. Providing zero goal support to help out your backup goaltender is worse.

Midway through the third period, Jeff Skinner and Tyler Myers took coincidental minors. In the resulting four-on-four play, Rasmus Dahlin took matters into his own hands. Dahlin cut through the defense like a smooth knife through butter and scored on the backhand on his way to the net. After Pettersson scored what seemed like the game-sealing empty-netter, Dahlin scored again with 21.6 seconds remaining.

The effort was not enough in the long run. On a night when many of the Eastern Conference playoff chasers won, the Sabres came out of the game pointless.

Impact Players

The Sabres attack boiled down to essentially three players – Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch, and Dahlin – while nearly the entire Canucks team ended up with a positive expected goals-for percentage. If it weren’t for Devon Levi, the scoreboard would’ve been considerably more lopsided.

The young netminder was peppered with high-danger opportunities, as Vancouver had 16 of their 28 scoring chances in prime scoring areas, per Natural Stat Trick. By comparison, Buffalo only had three of their 13 scoring chances in similar areas. Levi did well to surrender only two goals in the game, proving resting Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was not the issue in this contest.

On the other end of the ice, the Canucks’ stars were their stars. Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes were outstanding on Tuesday. Pettersson had two goals, an assist, and over 83% of the shot quality share when on the ice. Hughes had two assists and over 93.5% of the shot quality share when on the ice.

The Difference

The Sabres failed to generate much on the powerplay, which had four attempts to lift the club as they struggled at even strength. Buffalo registered a measly three shots across those four powerplays. Setting up in the zone proved difficult, and overpassing became an issue.

It’s hard to pin everything on the powerplay though. The Sabres needed to reach an extra gear all night and couldn’t do so until Dahlin’s first goal. Perhaps it was fatigue or perhaps it was a lack of focus. Either way, the Canucks were simply the better team on Tuesday.

What’s Next

The West Coast road trip continues Thursday, as the Sabres head to Edmonton to take on the Oilers. Buffalo’s inspiring 3-2 shootout-winning effort at home started to spring the team up the standings. They’ll need to do it on the road against a team that has lost once in regulation over their last 11 games. With the Red Wings, Devils, Flyers, and Lightning all picking up wins on Tuesday, the margin for error for the Sabres is even slimmer than before.