The Sabres finally win! They avoid making history tonight and break an 18 game winless skid with a 6-1 win over the Flyers.
The Sabres got off to a quick start with Reinhart getting a fortunate bounce to score his 13th of the year. He looked solid at Center after getting the opportunity to play his natural position for the first time since 2018, this time with better wingers. Curtis Lazar followed it up a couple minutes later after a nice feed from Riley Sheahan. Ivan Provorov cut the Sabres lead to 1 early in the 2nd but Linus Ullmark looked sharp and the Sabres played a solid game the rest of the way.
Steven Fogarty was electric in the 2nd with a nice goal in front off a Ristolainen feed but his pass on Mittestadt’s goal may have been even better. The Sabres once again held a 3 goal lead heading into the 3rd but this time were able to hold off any Flyers comeback.
Brandon Montour finished off the game with an empty netter late and then a nice backhand goal off his own rebound less than 40 seconds later. Kyle Okposo also had a couple of assists to boost his points streak with 6 points in his last 5 games. Jacob Bryson added a couple of secondary assists in the 2nd as he played a solid game on the back end.
1-0 BUF – Reinhart
2-0 BUF – Lazar
2-1 PHI – Provorov
3-1 BUF – Fogarty
4-1 BUF – Mittelstadt
5-1 BUF – Montour
6-1 BUF – Montour
Sam Reinhart at Center
Sam Reinhart played Center for the first time since 2018 when his wingers were Benoit Pouliot and Nick Baptiste, this time around with Victor Olofsson and Kyle Okposo. A fortunate bounce gave Reinhart a team leading 13th goal of the year and he didn’t look out of place. With Eichel not returning anytime soon, Reinhart should stay at center the rest of the way, even when Dylan Cozens returns from injury. Reinhart has been one of the few Sabres to consistently produce this season and with weak center depth its time to play Reinhart consistently at center.
Mittelstadt, Fogarty, Bryson
- Mittelstadt again played a solid game getting rewarded with a goal. Mittelstadt has put up a solid stretch of games here giving some hope he can turn into a serviceable player. His name was mentioned in some trade rumors but it remains to be seen how much Kevyn Adams will shake the team up.
- Steven Fogarty scored his first NHL goal and it was a big one to put the Sabres up 3-1. He followed it up with a great pass to Mittelstadt on his goal to put the Sabres up 4-1. All in all Fogarty played a really great game and carried the Rieder-Eakin-Fogarty line to an 81.92 xGF% according to Natural Stat Trick.
- Pierre McGuire couldn’t stop talking about Bryson tonight but he really did have a great game on the backend. He was calm with the puck and boasted a 77.71 xGF%. His poise on the point and pass to Fogarty led to the Mittelstadt goal as well. The Sabres have to be happy with Bryson’s development and he should be a mainstay as a bottom pair defenseman for years to come.
Ullmark has been great this season given the circumstances and tonight was no different, making 28 saves and allowing only 1 goal on 2.34 expected goals against. He has 6 of the Sabres 7 wins this year and should garner some attention at the deadline. In my opinion, it would be a mistake to trade the only proven viable goaltender in this organization but we will see what happens here down the stretch to the deadline. I am glad Linus and the Sabres were able to get the win tonight and get that monkey off their back.
The Sabres are back at it again tomorrow night in Buffalo against the New York Rangers and then against the Rangers again on Saturday. Let’s see if the Sabres can build on tonight’s win before the team is shaken up in a couple weeks here at the trade deadline.