Carl Gunnarsson scored the lone goal late in the third period and Carter Hutton stopped 27 shots for his third shutout of the season as the St. Louis Blues dropped the Buffalo Sabres 1-0 Saturday night at Buffalo, N.Y.
The Blues have won four of five outings to remain four points behind the first-place Winnipeg Jets in the ultra-competitive Central Division.
Gunnarsson finally broke the deadlock with 5:41 remaining at the KeyBank Center. He ripped a shot off the crossbar and into the net after Paul Stastny won an offensive zone faceoff. It’s Gunnarsson’s fifth goal of the season, which is a career high.
From there, it was Hutton’s turn to stand out, although the final frame was a solid display from both he and counterpart Robin Lehner, as after an uninspiring first two periods, the goaltenders were front and center for the duration.
Lehner was tested often in the first half of the third period and answered the bell with a trio of scintillating saves against Vladimir Sobotka, Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko to keep it scoreless.
Hutton responded when the Sabres finally gained momentum thanks to a power-play opportunity, making clutch stops on Jack Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly.
In the final minute, and with the Sabres goalie on the bench for an extra attacker, Hutton kept the hosts off the board with a huge stop against Sam Reinhart. Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen rang a shot off the crossbar just before time expired.
Hutton has surrendered only two goals in his last four games, and appears poised to wrestle the No. 1 goalie role from Jake Allen.
Lehner finished with 32 saves for the Sabres, who are now on a three-game losing skid and ahead of only the Arizona Coyotes in the league standings.
—Field Level Media