Quick Hits: Sabres at Jets

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Riding high off their first home win on Saturday afternoon, the Buffalo Sabres dispatched the Winnipeg Jets with ease, on the back of Kyle Okposo’s 2 goal afternoon.

As the Sabres began today’s game at the MTS Centre, the team looked to set a tone early that pushed Winnipeg to essentially play a road game at home.

It would take a little over half the first period for Buffalo to strike, but they were able to lock down the first goal of the game, thanks to a little extra effort.

Kyle Okposo entered the zone and unleashed a shot, which was immediately blocked by Tobias Enstrom. Not giving up on the play, Okposo grabbed the puck back and unleashed a wicked snapshot that rose past Michael Hutchinson. Okposo’s 3rd goal of the season, at 10:51 of the first, put Buffalo up 1-0.

Less than two minutes later, the Sabres would strike again.

Brian Gionta entered the zone, leading a 2-on-1 charge. Gionta decided taking a shot would garner a better chance than passing the puck off. Michael Hutchinson stopped the initial shot but decided not to freeze the puck for a faceoff.

Gionta followed up on the play around the goal crease and found a loose puck, which he was easily able to deposit into the net. Gionta’s 3rd goal of the season, at 12:49 of the first, pushed Buffalo’s lead to 2-0.

Buffalo would run their lead a notch higher, when the second period rolled around.

Another Kyle Okposo special, which seems like something we should get used to. Okposo received a pinpoint pass from Ryan O’Reilly and entered the offensive zone.

Okposo unleashed another fantastic shot, which found its way past Michael Hutchinson. This goal went in the books as Okposo’s 4th of the season, and 2nd of the game, at 13:59 of the second period.

Buffalo would hang onto their three goal lead until the 3rd period, when Winnipeg nailed down their first, and only, goal of the game. A shot from the point rocketed off the end boards and right onto the stick of Nik Ehlers, who made no mistake. From Buffalo’s perspective, Robin Lehner had almost no chance to make a save on this goal.

Ehlers’s 2nd goal of the season, at 4:49 of the third period, dropped Buffalo’s lead to 2 goals.

For the second straight game, Buffalo did not buckle at the knees when the third period rolled around. Positive progress for a growing team early in the season, especially after how the last week played out.

With this 3-1 victory, the Buffalo Sabres move to 12th place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 3-3-2 and 8 points.

Looking ahead, the Buffalo Sabres take the ice on Tuesday night at the Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis, when they face the Wild for the second time this season. Puck drops shortly after 8 PM, and the game can be seen exclusively on MSG.

Now, quick hits time.

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    • Kyle Okposo

So far, Kyle Okposo has been everything Sabres fans expected of him, when he signed last offseason. Okposo has seamlessly transitioned from playing with John Tavares to playing with Ryan O’Reilly.

Okposo seems to compliment O’Reilly’s game and vice versa, with today’s game as a perfect example.

So far, Okposo is proving to be the exactly the player the Buffalo Sabres needed.

    • Robin Lehner

In his first game back from illness, Robin Lehner was completely on his game.

Lehner recorded 37 saves on 38 shots, good for a .974 save percentage. Not too shabby, eh? The most impressive part of Lehner’s performance was how he played on the penalty kill. 12 shots faced and 12 shots saved while Winnipeg found themselves on the man advantage.

As for the one goal given up, we mentioned above that it was a fluke play that Lehner had no shot on. Either way, it is unfortunate for Lehner that he couldn’t get an opportunity at a shutout.

    • Injuries

The Buffalo Sabres lost Nicolas Deslauriers on Saturday afternoon, to what has been called a knee injury. Deslauriers is expected to miss “weeks”, per Dan Bylsma.

To further the injury issue, the Sabres lost Hudson Fasching just 53 seconds into Sunday’s matchup with the Jets, due to what has been deemed a groin injury.

Dan Bylsma did not reveal many more details post game, but he did mention that Buffalo would be recalling a forward from Rochester for Monday’s practice and possibly Tuesday’s game against the Wild.

    • Tweet of Game

Written by Ryan Wolfe

Ryan Wolfe is the founder and editor-in-chief of BLTD Sports. He can be heard on the BLTD Podcast. Ryan's writing is also featured over at TheHockeyWriters.com.

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