Despite allowing three goals in the final eight minutes of the third period, the Buffalo Sabres were victorious, knocking off the basement dwelling Arizona Coyotes 5-4. Benoit Pouliot scored twice, while Kyle Okposo, Seth Griffith and Evander Kane also scored for the Sabres.
Five observations from Thursday's win:
That was close
Normally you'd think a 5-1 lead with eight minutes to play would be pretty safe. Although the Sabres squeaked out a win in the desert -- this one was too close for comfort.
When you have that big of a lead you need to play smart. The Sabres did the complete opposite. Luckily for the blue and gold, Robin Lehner was solid.
Lehner has a solid start.....then
Robin Lehner's stat line on Thursday will look pretty average but the Sabres goaltender made big save after big save, especially during the first 40 minutes. Yes, he did allow four goals, but he also robbed the Coyotes on several occasions. Sometimes the box score doesn't tell the entire story. That was the case with Lehner on Thursday, who had one of his better games of the season.
Poo Poo Pouliot
After an incredibly pedestrian start to the season, Benoit Pouliot has put together an impressive five-game stretch. During that span, Pouliot has four goals and an assist. Prior to the Sabres matchup with the Boston Bruins [Oct. 21], Pouliot had only one point in nine games. It doesn't hurt that he's started getting more ice time with players like O'Reilly and Okposo. The trio seems to be forming some nice chemistry, as they combined for eight points against the Coyotes. Not bad.
In the first month of the season, Kyle Okposo has had a rough go. He's been benched, sick and missed several golden scoring chances. On Thursday he finally got the monkey off his back, scoring his first goal of the season in the dying seconds of the first period.
Okposo added an assist on Pouliot's first goal of the night, doubling his season point total from two to four. The Sabres assistant captain has a long way to go to return to form but Thursday was a step in the right direction.
A win they needed
How is this for perspective? The Sabres start has been brutal *but* they have SEVEN (!) more points than the Coyotes, who have only one win on the year. This was a game the Sabres needed to win as they try to get things back on track. It wasn't pretty, but at the end of the day, that doesn't matter.