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5 Observations: Tokarski shines as Sabres top Penguins 2-1

Tokarski turns away 45 shots as Sabres top Penguins 2-1
Posted at 10:01 PM, Nov 16, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. [WKBW] — Dustin Tokarski played one of the most impressive games from a Buffalo Sabres goaltender in recent memory and stole a win for his team. On Tuesday night, Tokarski's 45-save performance lifted the Sabres to a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Colin Miller and Kyle Okposo scored the Sabres' goals as they improve to 7-6-2 on the season.

Five observations:

Terrific Tokarski:

I’m not saying Dustin Tokarski is the best goaltender in the NHL. But I’m also not saying he’s not.

Jokes aside, what a performance from the Sabres netminder. He was the best player on the ice and made countless big saves for his team. This isn't meant to be hyperbolic; that was one of the best games from a Sabres goaltender in years.

He made so many great saves I don't even know which ones to highlight. In the second period, he got over to the post just in time to turn away Jeff Carter’s wraparound attempt. If he was a split second late reacting to play, it would’ve been a goal. Then in the third period, he made three huge saves in a matter of minutes. He finished the night with 43 saves and the only goal that got behind him went off a skate.

Tokarski will get the lion’s share of starts with Craig Anderson sidelined but even when the veteran returns to the lineup, it’s going to be hard sitting down Tokarski.

No rhythm:

The Sabres power play desperately misses Victor Olofsson. As a unit, they look uncomfortable and don’t pose any threat to opposing teams. Head coach Don Granato said before Tuesday’s game, his team is thinking too much and trying to make the perfect play. Whatever the issue is, it needs to be resolved because the Sabres don’t have a talented enough roster to rely on their even-strength production.

Stop protecting a lead:

It once again felt like the Sabres were trying to protect a lead in the final frame rather than attacking. In the third period, Pittsburgh outshot Buffalo 20-3. No, that's not a typo. The Penguins had more shots in the final period than the Sabres did in the entire game. The Penguins are the better team but that's no excuse for the Sabres' performance in the last 20 minutes of this game.

Passing another tough assignment:

Dylan Cozens’ and his linemates spent a good chunk of the evening going up against Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. As he did against Connor McDavid and the Oilers, Cozens impressed at both ends of the ice.

Cozens’ still has plenty of developing to do but he’s strung together a few nice games. He’s earned the trust of Don Granato and seems to be turning a corner after a relatively slow start to his sophomore season.

Playing with confidence:

Jeff Skinner didn’t score a goal on Tuesday night but he once again made his presence felt. The Sabres' highest-paid player is starting to look more like the guy they signed to an extension three years ago.

The sample size is small, but I don’t remember a time when Skinner has looked this comfortable. He’s currently on a 27-goal pace and it’s not crazy to think he could once again surpass the 30-goal mark.