BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Following an emotional letdown in their first shutout loss of the season, the Sabres had more spirit in the second night of a back-to-back set.
The Sabres generated more shots and scoring chances in a matchup between two of the NHL’s highest-scoring teams. But they failed to capitalize in a 4-3 loss against the streaking Seattle Kraken, winners of six straight.
“It was little bit better than last night, but we have to take a bigger step to beat a team that’s been playing really well as of late,” said Alex Tuch, who scored two goals to bring his season total to 20. “We had some momentum for the majority of the game and when we kind of sat back a little bit, got a little frustration, left some spots open in the D-zone and that’s when they capitalized.”
Rasmus Dahlin added a goal and an assist for the Sabres (20-16-2). Dahlin’s 13th goal matched San Jose’s Erik Karlsson for the most among NHL defenseman and equaled his career-high less than halfway into the season.
Dahlin’s 46 points are tied for second at his position, and he is one of four Sabres producing more than a point per game. Jeff Skinner’s two assists to bring his season tally to 41 points. Tage Thompson recorded his 57th when he threaded a pass across the crease to set up the first goal from Tuch, who has 45. Dylan Cozens had the secondary assist on Tuch’s second goal to give him 37 points in 38 games.
Buffalo took a 1-0 lead when Thompson’ set up’s backdoor feed to Tuch for the Sabres first shot on goal nearly 10 minutes into the third period. Dahlin’s goal on a power play early in the second made it 2-1. But the Kraken responded in both of the first two periods, and pulled away early in the third with two goals 4:11 apart.
“We typically score more with those chances we generated and it wasn’t to be tonight. We couldn’t get separation score-wise that I thought we had opportunity. It caught up with us.”
The Sabres out-shot the Kraken 35-22 and had a 29-24 advantage in scoring chances, according to NaturalStatTrick.com. Buffalo had 18 shots on goal in the third period, and several good chances on a late power play. After Seattle’s backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer stopped Victor Olofsson’s slap shot for one of his 32 saves, Thompson rang one off the corner post.
“You know what, I thought we played hard,” said Tuch, who knocked in a rebound for his second goal with 20.8 seconds left. “It’s better to have opportunities because last night we didn’t have many opportunities to score. Like I said, step in the right direction but not good enough tonight.”
Eric Comrie made 18 saves in his first start since sustaining a lower-body injury on Nov. 16. The Sabres planned to start Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen one day after loaning the rookie goalie to Rochester when Comrie was activated from injured reserve. But Luukkonen, who has the NHL’s longest active win streak at six games, developed an illness.
Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka were both healthy scratches, as Granato hoped a night off would ignite the rookie wingers’ play. Quinn has gone nine games without a point after recording 16 in the previous 20. Peterka went five games without a point after tallying 17 over the first 32.
Rasmus Asplund and Vinnie Hinostroza joined the line centered by Cozens. They created three scoring chances at 5-on-5, while allowing six chances and a goal, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
Buffalo hosts Comrie’s former team Winnipeg on Thursday night to close out a four-game homestand.