Sabres know way to win in San Jose
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Buffalo Sabres needed a regulation win and on Saturday they were in the right building to get it.
The Sabres continued their mastery of the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center, winning for the fourth straight time there, 2-1. The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for Buffalo and extended the Sharks’ losing streak to four in a row.
“If we’re going to win any games, that’s the way we’re going to have to win them,” Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said. “It’s going to be low scoring games, it’s going to take some ugly goals.”
Buffalo (2-7-0) came into the game having scored only one goal in its last four games but scored twice on three shots during the early stages of the third period to break a scoreless tie.
Left winger Cody Hodgson’s first of the year came in close at 3:43 after a centering feed by right winger Drew Stafford caromed off the back of San Jose defenseman Scott Hannan. San Jose defenseman Matt Irwin’s hard clear behind the net was intercepted by Buffalo defenseman Zemgus Girgensons to start the sequence.
“We got it deep first of all,” Hodgson said. “From there, we got it bumped back behind the net. Staff got the puck in front. It was laying there for me.”
Then, at 5:57, Buffalo left winger Nicolas Deslauriers beat Hannan to a weakside rebound of a Cody McCormick shot to beat San Jose goalie Alex Stalock.
“It’s just a bonus that I went to the net and it just popped right there,” Deslauriers said. “I just tapped it in. That’s the mentality we have to have all game, especially for our line.”
Buffalo rookie center Sam Reinhart, the second overall pick in June, picked up his first NHL point in his seventh game with the second assist.
The Sharks (4-4-1) answered quickly when defenseman Brent Burns scored his second goal of the season with a shot that went through a Tommy Wingels screen in front of Buffalo goalie Michal Neuvirth at 6:10.
But San Jose failed to gain the equalizer despite putting 13 shots on goal and playing with an extra attacker for the final 1:38.
“We’ve had two struggling teams come in and we don’t put our foot to the gas pedal until we’re down,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said, coupling Thursday’s home loss against Columbus with Saturday’s setback. “That’s not a good thing for our hockey club.”
And it doesn’t get any easier.
The Sharks flew to Anaheim immediately afterward to play the red-hot Ducks on Sunday to start a three-game trip against teams that all were playoff qualifiers in the Western Conference last season.
The Avalanche in the thin air of Denver await on Tuesday and fast-starting Minnesota is next on Thursday.
“There’s nothing wrong with the Sharks, no,” defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. “At some point in the season, all teams will lose four in a row. You don’t want to, but it will happen.
“We have a good opportunity against a division rival to get out of it.”
NOTES: Sabres coach Ted Nolan decided to swap LW Marcus Foligno with C Cody Hodgson on the second line. Foligno moved to center and Hodgson to left wing. ... Sabres backup G Michal Neuvirth started his third game of the season. Starter Jhonas Enroth (1-5, 3.13 goals-against average) had faced a league-high 222 shots. ... G Alex Stalock started for San Jose in place of Annti Niemi, who has already matched last year’s allowance of at least five goals in a game twice. ... The Sabres conclude their four-game trip in Toronto on Tuesday. ... The Sharks, who visit Anaheim on Sunday, play their next three on the road as they continue a season-opening stretch of 16 of 21 games on the road. ... The Sabres have won nine of 10 over the Sharks since 2007-08. ... D Jason Demers and LW Tye McGinn were healthy scratches for San Jose. D Tyson Strachan, D Nikita Zadorov and C Brian Flynn did not dress for Buffalo.