After getting stymied by Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger on Tuesday, the Buffalo Sabres will seek an offensive breakthrough when they host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday afternoon.
The Sabres fell to the Stars 2-1 despite outshooting Dallas 48-30.
“I think we outplayed them the entire game,” Sabres forward Tage Thompson said. “I thought defensively we were strong. We played a pretty tight game, didn’t really give up too much. I think their goalie won that one for them, obviously. That’s the way we’ve got to play though. I think we finished off the last few games before the break pretty strong and that’s something we’ve got to continue — just continue to play the right way.
“I think you look up and down the lineup, I think the compete and the work ethic was there, and the intensity. So, that’s really all you can ask for.”
They hope to build on that effort when they face the Blues at KeyBank Center. St. Louis will be playing its first game since returning from the All-Star break.
“Obviously, you want to win,” Thompson said. “You need those points, especially down the stretch here. But I feel like we play like that, we’re going to have success.”
The Sabres have been getting strong goaltending from Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who went 5-3-0 with a 1.52 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage in January. He stopped 28 of 30 shots Tuesday against the Stars.
Buffalo found good chemistry with a reconfigured second line. With Jack Quinn sidelined with a lower-body injury, Zach Benson joined Dylan Cozens and J.J. Peterka.
Against the Stars, that line built advantages of 25-5 in shot attempts, 17-1 in shots on goal and 13-3 in scoring chances.
The Blues won the previous meeting between the teams 6-4 on Nov. 30. Brayden Schenn and Jake Neighbours each scored twice for the Blues while Rasmus Dahlen and Benson each had a goal and an assist for the Sabres.
Jordan Binnington made 42 saves for the Blues in that game. He is coming off an outstanding January; he went 6-2-1 in January with a 2.10 GAA and .930 save percentage.
St. Louis will be short-handed defensively at Buffalo after placing Justin Faulk and Scott Perunovich on injured reserve with lower-body injuries.
“We always thought that maybe there’d be a chance coming off the break that we would maybe have one or both in,” Blues interim coach Drew Bannister said. “It’s unfortunate to come back and they’re not ready quite to get themselves back on the ice. Certainly, we’re going to miss both of them.”
Bannister has reworked his defensive pairings in practice Thursday, putting rookie Matt Kessel with Torey Krug on the second pairing and Tyler Tucker and Marco Scandella together on their pairing.
The Blues recalled Calle Rosen from Springfield of the AHL and he could step into the lineup Saturday.
“Like always, this is an opportunity for Calle Rosen and Tucker to come in and be able to partake, give us good minutes,” Bannister said. “We’re going to need these guys and other guys to step up.”
–Field Level Media
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