Sabers top line shown in “View,” Eric Comrie standing tall in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – Conor Helbwick shook his head slightly, looked at the scoreboard and showed no emotion.

Few left one of the best goalkeepers in the world so distraught. But few in the NHL have what Tage Thompson, Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch have.

Their innate sense of each other’s place on the ice, combined with their impressive skill, produced a goal Thursday night at Canada Life Center that Buffalo Sabers fans will remember long after this game on the road against one of the league’s top teams.

Skinner crossed the blue line with the ball in the second half and flicked a pass past two defenders to Tosh at the far post. Sensing that the Jets weren’t covering the hole, Tuch passed it back to Thompson, who scored it once into the net while Hellebuyck’s eyes were still fixed on Tuch.

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“I have a front row seat to these two guys putting on a show,” Skinner said with a smile.

The goal—it was the Sabres’ 31st streak on the ice together this season—put Buffalo up by two and punctuated a second period in which they edged the Winnipeg Jets. And the swords weren’t finished either.

Victor Olofsson added a powerhouse goal in the third period to backup Eric Comrie in a 3-2 Sabers victory Thursday night.

“So much fun,” Toch added.

The Sabers (26-19-3) won their fifth straight game — their second winning streak of at least five this season — and continued their stellar play away from Buffalo. Defenseman Owen Power broke through at 10:32 in the second period after Hellebuyck kept the Jets in the game with a stellar start.

Bauer’s third goal in as many games led to the Sabers dominating this period. They outscored the Jets 15-5 and got 16 more shot attempts in 20 minutes to enact revenge on Winnipeg (31-18-1), which needed a win to get its best start through 50 games in franchise history.

“Just wear it down,” Skinner explained. “Obviously it’s a good team. They have a really good goalkeeper. I think we played them both times, that was the theme for us, trying to find a way to break through.

“Tonight the Coms were really good for us early on, I think in the second period we got our game up and were able to take some chances. They were really good for us late again. Just stick with it, that’s what you have to do against good teams.” “.

This was a standout performance by the Sabers. Exceptional play would be spread by the top line, but the trio wasn’t the only group moving the puck with precision. Each of Buffalo’s four front linemen used their speed to give Winnipeg bouts of starting and dominated the game at 5-on-5. The Sabers finished with 11 high-risk scoring opportunities in those situations compared to the Jets’ four, according to Natural Stat Trick.

The Sabers defense corps, playing without Matthias Samuelson, quickly flicked the puck over the ice to give Winnipeg any time to seal the neutral zone. The Jets’ only momentum came early from a pair of power plays in the first period, neither of which resulted in a good scoring opportunity.

Comrie was sharp while starting his first game at 16 days old. He didn’t face a heavy workload against his former team, but made timely stops early to keep the score even, including a blocker on timer one by Kevin Stenlund. Comrie stopped 19 of 21 shots he faced during his second appearance with Buffalo since his tenure with Rochester ended on January 7.

“It was the best I’ve seen us play all year,” said Comrie. “It was unbelievable.”

The Sabers didn’t seem discouraged when Hellebuyck stopped each of his 14 shots in the first period. They knew he wouldn’t allow a goal on a no-screen shot, but they didn’t press and kept catching bar-to-bar passes around the offensive zone to earn chances.

Bauer’s short wrist shot gave them their first lead of the night. The club’s top line then combined with the memorable goal less than four minutes later for a two-goal advantage. Thompson was the team’s leading 34 this season, while Tuch had 43 points in his last 33 games, and Skinner’s assists on Thursday gave him 36 points in his last 27 games.

“He’s a big body,” Toch said of Thompson. “It’s hard to miss him there. Skinny made an incredible pass to knock me wide. Sometimes you have to throw in an extra pass to beat a goalkeeper like Hellebuyck. He played really well tonight. We couldn’t beat him cleanly, but we’ve got some doors.” background and two vision shots.”

Skinner added, “Some guys have a natural chemistry together, and obviously I think the more I play with someone, the more I get a sense of where they’d be and where they like to pinch in different situations.” “We do such a good job of reading each other because we have that familiarity.”

But the Sabers’ third goal came at a price. Dylan Cozens, in the midst of a season break, headbutted a volley in front of the Winnipeg bench with 10:24 to play and did not return to the game. Sabers coach Don Granato told reporters afterward that Cousins ​​is “good” and “expects” the 21-year-old center to return if there is more time.

Olofsson scored his 11th goal in 12 games and 23rd of the season on a up front scramble during the ensuing power play. The Jets showed a little bit of life until Nate Schmidt made it 3-1 with 4:46 left in regulation.

Dubois then cut Buffalo’s lead by one with 41.4 seconds to go in the third. But Comrie stood tall in key situations, including the final moments of the game, to help Buffalo improve to 12-2-1 on the road since November 22.

Despite playing their 14th game in 26 days, the Sabers continued their rise in the Eastern Conference and now trail the Pittsburgh Penguins by two points for second place in the wild card.

“They have a good team, a good young team,” said Dubois, who has scored 20 goals four times. “When I was in Columbus, we had one of the smallest teams in the NHL. A lot of teams would say we have a lot of young people, that innocence of just going out and playing and having fun. They’ve got that for them now. They’re a dangerous team. I mean, look.” It’s like every week you see a seven-goal game at the Buffalo Sabers or something.”

Here are other notes from Thursday:

Regardless of points production, energy must be considered for the Calder Trophy. He entered Thursday with an average of at least two more minutes per game than any other rookie. Among defensemen who have appeared in at least 40 games, he ranks seventh in goals on the ice with an average of 5 in 5 per 60 minutes. The 20-year-old’s work in the offensive zone helped the Sabers control play, resulting in constant possession and dangerous scoring opportunities.

His confidence continues to rise as he gains more experience. He showed it again on his second-half goal by choosing not to defer to anyone else on the ice. Bauer trusted his instincts and sprinted into the left circle and took the shot.

“Owen is absolutely amazing, obviously he scored three goals in a row. It’s impressive for his age,” Granato said. What he does every night, it’s just amazing when you take into account his age and lack of experience in our league to control situations and, in fact, entire matches as he does.”

This game was significant for Comrie. He was drafted by Winnipeg in 2013 and spent several seasons in the organization. Hellebuyck’s presence was the reason Comrie never got a starting opportunity with the Jets.

The Sabers wanted to win for Comrie. They knew how much the game meant to the 27-year-old. And he was exceptional in the first period when they needed him. It was the first time in franchise history that the Sabers won three straight games with three different guards after Craig Anderson and Akko-Pekka Lukonen led them to wins in Dallas and St. Louis on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

“This team is amazing,” Comrie said. “This is more fun for me [had] I play hockey in my life. This team is just fun to be apart from. It’s a fun group to be around. We love hockey. we love each other. It’s the kind of atmosphere that just breeds performance.”

The MSG broadcast showed Samuelson groveling on the bench Tuesday night in St. Louis as the Sabers made their way to the locker room during halftime. He skated with the team on Thursday morning, but didn’t feel well enough to play.

Kale Clague joined Samuelsson’s lineup after being a healthy eight-game scratch and skating next to Dahlin in 5-on-5 situations. Clague was solid against the Jets and, along with Comrie, turned down a 3-on-1 lead before the Sabers surged in the second half.

Granato told reporters after the game that Samuelsson is an option to play Saturday at Minnesota and acknowledged that the team’s record without Dahlin’s defensive partner was a cause for concern before the puck was touched.

Buffalo went into Thursday 22-9-3 with him in the lineup and 3-10 when he was out with a knee injury earlier this season.

“Sami’s stats in our squad and when he’s not in our squad, that just goes through your head and it’s very simple,” said Granato. “We have a lot of confidence in our group and tonight was a great night for that, to ease that kind of relief. We’ve got very capable guys.”

The Sabers travel to Minnesota to play The Wild on Saturdays at 9 p.m

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