BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Entering the final third of the season, the Sabres are playoff contenders in the East, in large part due to their winning ways out West.

Saturday night’s 4-2 win in San Jose was Buffalo’s sixth on the road against a Pacific Division opponent this season, the most in franchise history, and the Sabres (28-22-4) improved to 12-2-2 when visiting Western Conference teams. Following a win in Anaheim, the Sabres secured four standings points on a three-game trip, their last of the year on the other coast.

Striding into the Eastern Conference playoff race with 60 points in 54 games, Buffalo improved its wild-card position with Washington, Detroit, Florida, and the New York Islanders logging losses. On a 91-point pace, the Sabres’ percentage (.556) now rates eighth in the conference, and their goal differential (+12) ranks seventh.

Jeff Skinner scored the game-winning goal against the Sharks. Dylan Cozens extended his goal streak to three. Alex Tuch and Owen Power also scored, while Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 33 saves for his 14th win of the season.

“I think (Luukkonen) obviously kept us in (the game) early. He made some really big saves, especially that one at the end of the first,” Skinner said.

Skinner received a pass from Tage Thompson midway through the third period for his 21st goal of the year.

“We were much, much better the third period. We finally decided to shoot a puck, and we did not through two periods,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “We made a lot of work for ourselves because we were unwilling to shoot a puck.”

At 3:01 of the first period, Cozens went coast to coast and beat Kaapo Kahkonen through the legs for his 20th goal of the season.

“I was looking for some options, but I think they all kind of came off the bench (and) were flat-footed, so I just had to take it outside and just throw it on, and it found a way in,” Cozens said.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Owen Power celebrates after scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the second period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Just like Cozens’s goal, Power was able to beat the Sharks goalie in the second with a shot that went five-hole for the rookie defenseman’s fourth goal in nine games.

Tuch scored his 26th goal into an empty net to ice the game in the third.

Early in the third, Sabres forward Peyton Krebs was awarded a penalty shot but was stopped by Kahkonen, who made 27 saves. Evgeny Svechnikov and Alexander Barabanov scored for San Jose.


Sabres host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.