The Vancouver Canucks beat the Buffalo Sabres 1-0 on Saturday afternoon, running their win streak to five games. Goalie Thatcher Demko earned his 4th shut-out of the season, tied for the NHL lead.
The Sabres played a strong period defensively and limited Vancouver’s chances on goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. The Canucks were stuck on three shots-on-goal for most of the period until they doubled the total during the final two minutes.
While the Sabres put more vulcanized rubber on net, nothing much amounted in Grade-A chances. Forward Zach Benson had the best opportunity with one of his two shots-on-goal in front, but netminder Demko was up to the task.
Vancouver had the lone power play of the period and didn’t put much of anything together.
For the second time in a week, Brock Boeser had a goal taken away based on video review. This time it for an offside infraction that was missed just 39-seconds into the period. Last time it was goaltender interference in the 1st period against the New Jersey Devils.
Once again, the Canucks would be the first to hop onto the board regardless. This time it only took 86 seconds for Sam Lafferty to bang home a rebound to put Vancouver up 1-0.
Meanwhile, in the first four minutes, the Sabres lost two defencemen to injury. Filip Hronek inadvertently sent Mattias Samuelsson to the dressing room with a hit to the chin while heading to the net. Moments later J.T, Miller hit Rasmus Dahlin with a shoulder to the head that resulted in Dahlin leaving and Miller getting a minor penalty.
The Sabres and head coach Don Granato were down to four healthy blueliners.
Moments after that, Canucks winger Ilya Mikheyev hit the post on a breakaway chance, not long before Vancouver earned its second power play of the game. Tage Thompson went off for tripping at 6:49.
After the failed penalty kill the chippy behaviour picked up steam. Erik Johnson took exception to the hit on Dahlin and fought Miller. Johnson went to the dressing room and the Sabres were down to three D-men. Forward Zemgus Girgensons took shifts on the blueline.
The scrums and dirty stuff after whistles became more frequent. The Sabres picked up their first man advantage of the game with just less than six minutes remaining when Dakota Joshua went off for high sticking. Dahlin returned to the game and quarterbacked the power play.
It was announced Samuelsson would not return to the game just before Buffalo picked up its second power play.
Nothing doing again. Along the way, Demko robbed Casey Mittelstadt with a glove save with 90-seconds remaining in the period.
For the 26th time this season, the Canucks entered the third period with a lead.
Alex Tuch hit the crossbar just eight seconds into the period as the final ten seconds of the Sabres power play carried over.
Two-and-a-half minutes later, Buffalo would get another power play chance. They almost scored twice during the delayed call 6-on-5.
As for the power play itself; no deal, although the Sabres came close. Demko gobbled up a great chance by Mittelstadt and Dylan Cozens rang a shot off the crossbar.
Demko made a big stop on J.J. Peterka from the slot with an extra attacker on the ice late in the game.
Shots on goal finished 26-23 in favour of the Sabres. Power plays: Vancouver 0-for-2, Buffalo 0-for-3.
Canucks 3 Stars:
1) Thatcher Demko – Made 26 saves for his 4th shut-out on the season. 22 Wins on the season.
2) Quinn Hughes – Took plenty of hits while leading the club in ice time and dictating play.
3) Sam Lafferty – Scored the game winner.
— Simmer’s Sunday 9: Canucks, Kraken, And Gabby Podcast Returns