BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Rasmus Dahlin’s campaign for the Norris Trophy continued Thursday night in Calgary when the Sabres’ alternate captain set an NHL record as the first defenseman in 106 years to score goals in four consecutive games to start the season.
Dahlin, the 22-year-old drafted No. 1 overall in 2018, scored at 10:49 of an eventful first period, which included two other goals from Sabres’ first-round picks, 21-year-old Dylan Cozens and 23-year-old Casey Mittelstadt, in a span of 6:36 that sparked the Sabres to a 6-3 win over the Flames. Mittelstadt’s breakaway goal was the Sabres’ first shorthanded tally of the season.
JJ Peterka, a 21-year-old drafted in the second round, assisted on Dahlin’s goal, joining Victor Olofsson in 2019 as the only Sabres rookies to start the season on a four-game point streak. Peterka had two goals and an assist in the first three contests.
With Alex Tuch scoring his first NHL hat trick in Calgary, giving him five goals on the season and his first multi-goal game with the Sabres, the 17 goals Buffalo has scored this season have come from players with a weighted average age of 24.
Owen Power, the 19-year-old defenseman drafted first overall in 2021, got his first assist of the season on Mittelstadt’s goal, and another on Tuch’s goal. It was Power’s first multi-point night in his 12th NHL game. Jacob Bryson also tallied two assists, as Buffalo defensemen notched a point on each of the first four goals.
While the Sabre youths filled up the scoresheet, veteran Vinnie Hinostrova was the most productive player on the ice in the opening period with an assist on each of Buffalo’s three goals. The 28-year-old winger matched his career high and marked the second time in 66 games with the Sabres that Hinostrova tallied three points.
Hinostrova had four assists in the first four periods of Buffalo’s road trip out West, after being a healthy scratch for the Sabres’ opening home games. The former sixth-round pick by the Chicago Blackhawks has replaced 21-year-old rookie Jack Quinn in Buffalo’s lineup.
Dahlin’s four goals are the most among NHL defensemen. Going back to last season, Dahlin has scored eight goals in his past 12 games, three more than anyone other D-man since April 12. Dahlin is the second Buffalo blue-liner with goals in four straight games, joining Hockey Hall of Fame member Phil Housley, who accomplished the feat in 1988, and was the Sabres coach in Dahlin’s rookie season.
“It’s crazy,” Dahlin said. “I don’t know what to say really. It’s pretty crazy to think about it. There’s 78 games left. I’ve got more job to do.”
Dahlin saw 25:15 of ice time and blocked five shots against the Flames in a game in which the Sabres were down to five healthy defenseman. Dahlin’s partner Herni Jokiharju left in the first period with an injury, and Ilya Lubushkin was scratched after he got hurt in Tuesday night’s win against Edmonton.
Flames coach Darryl Sutter took notice.
“Pretty dominant player for them,” Sutter said. “Probably the best player on the ice.”
With an assist on Tuch’s empty-net goal in the third period, Dahlin has six points in four games this season, tied for the most among NHL defenseman, and with Tuch for the team lead among the top 36 in the league. Dahlin also leads the Sabres in average ice time (24:40), shots on goal (16), and plus-minus (+6).
Entering Thursday’s game, Dahlin was tied with six other NHL defenseman who scored in each of the first three games of the season. Baldy Northcott scored in the first four games for the Montreal Maroons in 1932, but was listed as a forward on the postseason All-Star team.
Selected to his first All-Star team last season, Dahlin had 13 goals and a team-high 40 assists in 80 games. He has 166 points, with 35 goals, in 281 career contests.
Jonah Bronstein joined the News 4 roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Read more of his work here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.