Have the Sabres found their 2nd Line?; Buffalo Sabres vs New Jersey Devils Game Recap 2/22/2021

Final Score: 4-1 Sabres 

The Sabres offense came to life on Tuesday night as Buffalo defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-1 to conclude their road trip.

Jacob Bryson made his NHL debut on the blue line while Rasmus Asplund stepped in for an injured Tobias Rieder. Jeff Skinner was once again a healthy scratch. 

Victor’s office

The Sabres’ Swedish connection got things started midway through the second period when Rasmus Dahlin found Victor Olofsson for a one-timer on the power play. Olofsson now has 35% of the Sabres goals on the man-advantage this season and has once again been unstoppable from the right face-off dot.

The goal felt like a miracle of-sorts considering the Sabres hit the post three or four times on that power play alone. 

Look at Cozens, man

More on this duo later in this article, but the Cozens and Hall connection has been a glimmer of hope for the Sabres offense since their top rookie was activated off of the COVID protocol. There were high hopes for Cozens entering his first year, but the 20-year old’s poise and maturity — coupled with his world class talent — have still made for an impressive surprise. Cozens never seems to panic with the puck and is always in position to disrupt the opponent’s play or make one himself. 

Asplund contributes

Rasmus Asplund was a surprising, late call-up from the Sabres’ taxi squad on Tuesday, taking the place of the injured Tobias Rieder. While the story on the call-up has revolved more around Skinner not playing than Asplund getting an opportunity, the 23 year-old showed why he shouldn’t be overlooked himself. 

Final minute goals 

This game really felt like 3-0, but Nikita Gusev (NJ) and Cody Eakin each added a goal in the final minute of the period. It was unfortunate to see Ullmark’s shutout broken after such a strong performance.

Trending Up: 

Dylan Cozens and Taylor Hall duo

We pointed out on Twitter during Monday’s game that Dylan Cozens seems to have added a spark to the Sabres’ second line and that he has. 

The line consisting of Cozens, Hall and Staal led the Sabres in ice-time at even-strength on Tuesday while Cozens specifically continued his strong performance. The first-year winger was rewarded with a goal off the feed from Hall shown above. 

Hall’s play has improved the last three or four games and the combination of him and Cozens may be what lead the star to break out. 

For the time being, the Sabres seem to have something with this second line. In a season that has shown little-to-no chemistry for Buffalo, a line that can be trusted both offensively and defensively 5v5 is huge. 

Linus Ullmark

Given the back-to-back games, many expected Carter Hutton to take the crease for the Sabres on Tuesday. Instead, Krueger went back to Ullmark, and the Swedish net-minder did not disappoint. 

Ullmark was less than a minute away from the shutout before Nikita Gusev finally was able to bury one for New Jersey. Regardless, Ullmark played a stellar game. He compounded a series of big saves to keep the Sabres alive in the third period, and really, all the way through this one. 

Ullmark’s game tends to be nitpicked at times but you can’t ask for more than what he’s shown over the last couple of weeks. 

Quick Hits: 

  • Jacob Bryson had a strong first NHL game, showing off a lot of the traits that have made him an intriguing prospect to this point. Bryson showcased his combination of nimble foot speed and a mind for offense with quick-strike breakouts and smart shot attempts on Tuesday. 
  • Casey Mittelstadt had another solid performance in what has been a pleasant surprise of a recall thus far. The first round pick from 2017 has shown increased foot speed and no waver of confidence when carrying the puck. 

Looking Forward: The Sabres will be right back in action against the Devils at home on Thursday. 

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