Sabres Blank Colorado At Home
BUFFALO — Evander Kane helped the Buffalo Sabres to their first winning streak in nearly a month. There’s more work to do if this run is to become a playoff push, though.
“We need to go back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back,” Kane said after the Sabres’ 2-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.
“That’s where we’re at right now.”
Kane and Sam Reinhart scored, Robin Lehner made 23 saves and the Sabres moved within three points of Toronto for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. They have won consecutive games for the first time since a three-game winning streak from Jan. 20-24.
“We didn’t take our foot off the gas,” Kane said.
Buffalo’s ability to maintain puck possession puck benefited its defense.
“That was our best game in a while at limiting their time in the offensive zone, breaking the puck out as quick as possible, and keeping it down there,” Reinhart said.
Lehner got his fifth career shutout and second of the season. In eight February games, Lehner is 4-3-1 with a 1.88 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage. This was the fewest number of shots Lehner has faced in the last 35 games he played all three periods.
“When they did break us down, Lehner was there again,” Reinhart said. “Seems like a broken record at this point, but he’s been there to bail us out a lot.”
The Avalanche lacked energy in the fourth of a season-long five-game road trip. Colorado has lost five in a row and 11 straight on the road. This was the Avalanche’s ninth shutout loss.
“We didn’t create enough scoring chances to win the hockey game,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “We didn’t earn a power play. Not competitive enough early in that game.”
Calvin Pickard made 30 saves.
“We haven’t had a point on this whole road trip,” Pickard said. “We’ve got to find a way to get a win.”
Pickard made five saves on Buffalo’s three power plays before giving up the goal to Reinhart.
“Calvin was good,” Bednar said. “Their power play is dangerous at home, and he’s a big reason why we had the power play stops in the first period.”
Buffalo took a 1-0 lead 48 seconds into the second period when Reinhart scored on a power play. Reinhart gathered the rebound off Rasmus Ristolainen’s slap shot from the point and slipped a backhand between Pickard’s pads for his 13th of the season.
The Sabres have struggled in second periods this season, getting outscored 63-40 through their first 57 games.
Kane got his 19th goal of the season with 4:14 left in the third period, cutting from the right wall to the front of the net and beating Pickard with a hard wrist shot. Kane has 12 points in his last 12 games.
NOTES: Sabres C Derek Grant left the game late in the first period with a shoulder injury and did not return. … Sabres D Cody Franson skated with the team Thursday morning and said he could return to the lineup this weekend. Franson has missed four games with a foot injury. … Buffalo did not take a penalty. … UFC lightweight Anthony “Rumble” Johnson was interviewed on the video scoreboard during the first intermission. Johnson is scheduled to fight champion Daniel Cormier in the main event of UFC 210 in Buffalo on April 8.
Avalanche: Conclude their road trip Friday night at Carolina.
Sabres: Host St. Louis on Saturday.