BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Sabres are pushing their way into the NHL playoff picture. Thursday night’s 3-2 victory at Winnipeg was Buffalo’s fifth in a row, lifting the Sabres within a win of a qualifying pace in the wild-card race.
Buffalo (26-19-3) has three regulation wins on a four-game road trip that concludes Saturday in Minnesota, and with 55 points through 48 games, the Sabres closed in on the Penguins (57 points in 48 games), who lost in a shootout Thursday against the Capitals (58 points in 51 games). The second win streak of five or more games this season gives Buffalo a 57% chance of ending its NHL-record playoff drought at 11 seasons, according to MoneyPuck.com, with a points percentage (.573) that rates eighth in the conference.
In Thursday’s win against the Jets, Owen Power became the first Sabres rookie defenseman to score in three consecutive games, Tage Thompson tallied his 34th goal and an assist to match his career-high with 68 points this season, Victor Olofsson scored his 23rd, Jeff Skinner and Rasmus Dahlin each had a pair of assists, and Eric Comrie made 19 saves against his former team as the Sabres extended their road point streak to six games, the club’s longest in five seasons.
“That was a dominant performance by our team,” said Comrie, who started his first game in over two weeks and won for the first time since Nov. 2. “If we can do that every single night, that’s a special team we have in here. It’s a fun group to play behind, and a fun group to be a part of.
“That’s Buffalo Sabre hockey right now,” Comrie continued. “It’s fun, and it’s exciting.”
Buffalo center Dylan Cozens went to the dressing room in the third period after he got hit in the face by the butt end of a stick by Winnipeg’s Nate Schmidt, but coach Don Granato indicated Cozens could have returned if it was earlier in the game. “He was chomping at the bit when I walked off the ice,” Granato said.
Defenseman Mattias Samuelsson sat out with a lower-body injury sustained against the Blues, but Granato said he has a chance to play Saturday against the Wild.
Power’s goal in the first period extended his point streak to four games. He’s also the third-youngest NHL defenseman in the past 35 years to post a three-game streak of goals. The 20-year-old didn’t have a goal in the first 45 games before his scoring streak.
“He’s hot right now. Give him the puck, because he’s going to score,” Comrie said about Power.
Thompson stretched his points streak to six games. He has three goals and seven assists during the streak. Thompson made it 2-0 in the second on a one-timer off Skinner and Tuch’s tic-tac-toe set-up. Tuch has a seven-game point streak, the second-longest run in his career.
Olofsson boosted the lead to 3-0 with a power-play goal midway through the third, after the hit on Cozens.
Following wins Monday at Dallas with Craig Anderson in net, and Tuesday’s victory at St. Louis backstopped by Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen, the Sabres have won three straight on the road, starting different goaltenders in each game.
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.