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5 Observations: Sabres top Devils 4-1

Sabres end road trip with win vs. Devils
Posted at 9:36 PM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 21:44:12-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. [WKBW] — Despite their continued scoring woes, the Buffalo Sabres ended their road trip with a win, topping the New Jersey Devils 4-1. Victor Olofsson, Rasmus Asplund, Dylan Cozens, and Cody Eakin scored for the Sabres while Linus Ullmark stopped 41 of the 42 shots he faced.

Offensive explosion

Baby steps my friends. All season the Sabres have struggled to score even-strength goals. Nobody is suggesting two goals at even strength will be enough most nights, but it's still more than what we've grown accustomed to so far this season. What was most promising on Tuesday was when the goals came. In a close game, rather than protecting a lead, the Sabres scored twice in less than two minutes to triple their lead. After a slow start in the first period, the Sabres were the better team for almost all of the second and third periods.

Bryson's debut

In his first NHL game, Sabres defenseman Jacob Bryson looked like he belonged. Now before we get carried away, let's remember this is an incredibly small sample size and he was paired with a solid partner in Colin Miller.

That said, there were things to like. Most noticeably, Bryson has some serious wheels. We knew this after watching him have success in both college and Rochester. But he reminded us of that speed in the first period as he flew into the offensive zone and joined the rush. Bryson just missed scoring his first career goal as he hit the post on a point-blank chance. It's refreshing to see a player not named Rasmus join the rush. Overall, it was a commendable performance in his first NHL game.

Lethal Power Play

One of the only bright spots this season has been the Sabres' success with the man advantage. Once again they capitalized Tuesday evening as Victor Oloffson tallied his sixth power-play goal of the year.

On their first attempt of the evening, the Sabres were buzzing and created multiple quality chances but couldn't solve Devils goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood. They redeemed themselves later in the period after nearly two straight minutes of solid puck movement. Buffalo needs to stop relying so much on their power play but it's certainly nice to have a unit that can score every time they have an opportunity.

Lights out Linus

For the second consecutive evening, Linus Ullmark was awesome. Against the Devils, he looked composed right from the start and made several crucial saves, especially in the third period. If not for a late goal with an extra attacker, Ullmark would've had a shutout. During their four-game road trip, Ullmark started every game and quite frankly, gave his team a chance to win each night.

During his last four starts, Ullmark only allowed nine goals. If not for their offensive struggles, the Sabres would likely be coming back to Buffalo with a few more points. With three more games on the schedule this week, don't be surprised if Ullmark is given a day off, but I'd expect he plays again Thursday and once this weekend. Ride the hot hand and see where it takes you.

Skinner Saga Continues

Jeff Skinner was once again a healthy scratch on Tuesday night and social media exploded. Whether or not you agree with Krueger's decision, it's crazy to see how this has unfolded. Before the game, Krueger was asked if Skinner was being disciplined. Krueger said it was all about hockey.

"He's an absolute pro, dealing with this situation in a very professional way," Krueger said. "[He's] working extremely hard with the extra ice time that he's been given, so nothing but hockey here,"

The Sabres are not scheduled to practice on Wednesday and will host the Devils at KeyBank Center on Thursday. I'd expect Skinner will be back in the lineup then, but I also expected he'd be back in the lineup on Tuesday, so who knows how this will play itself out.