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Postgame Report | Win streak hits 5 games as Sabres down Jets in Winnipeg

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WINNIPEG – Eric Comrie stood in the visiting dressing room inside Canada Life Centre, a building where he played parts of seven seasons for the Winnipeg Jets and their AHL affiliate. His focus was squarely on the present and his current team. 

“This team is fantastic,” Comrie said. “It’s the most fun I’ve [had] playing hockey in my whole life. It’s just fun to be a part of, it’s a fun group to be around. We love the game of hockey and we love each other. It’s that kind of atmosphere that just breeds performance. 

“Guys want to come here now and it’s so much fun to be a part of that. Seeing these guys just battle every single night is pretty special.”

The Sabres battled for Comrie on Thursday, outshooting the Jets 36-21 in a 3-2 victory. They extended their winning streak to five games and improved to 12-2-1 in their last 15 road games.

Owen Power and Tage Thompson scored goals during a dominant second period that saw the Sabres outshoot the Jets 14-5. Victor Olofsson added a power-play goal in the third.

Don Granato predicted Thursday morning that the Sabres would be eager to play in front of Comrie, who returned from a lower-body injury against Seattle on January 10 but had not played since. Comrie spent the meantime living up to his workmanlike reputation.

“He’s a guy that works, he’s a great character, high integrity, and absolutely has a love for his team and his teammates and the game of hockey,” Granato said. “… He’s the first guy on the ice and the last guy off the ice, and we’ve got a lot of guys that fit in that category. He outdoes them all.”

Comrie helped the Sabres navigate a contested, scoreless first period. He faced just five shots while his teammates rewarded him in the second, rolling shift after shift in the Winnipeg zone. Comrie maintained his focus through the lulls, but appreciated them for what they were afterward.

“That was the best I’ve seen us play all year,” he said. “That was incredible.”

Video: POSTGAME: Comrie

Comrie was drafted by the Jets during the second round in 2013. He had brief stops in Detroit and New Jersey but returned to Winnipeg on waivers both times. Last season, he posted a .920 save percentage while playing a career-high 19 games as Connor Hellebuyck’s backup. 

The Sabres identified Comrie as a player ready to take the next step and signed him to a two-year contract during the summer. He played 12 games prior to missing nearly two months due to his injury, during which time Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen found success partnering with Craig Anderson.The Sabres have kept all three goaltenders since Comrie’s return, a testament to their belief in the trio.

That belief came to life against the Jets. 

“Eric is a guy that, as I said this morning, our players have a lot of respect for,” Granato said. “This was a big game for I think our whole team because they know how much it would mean to anybody coming back into their old building and he hasn’t played much lately. 

“I know they were very excited before the game. Couldn’t show it, but they definitely showed it after the game.”

Here’s more from a fifth straight victory in Winnipeg.

Video: Condensed Game: Sabres @ Jets


How it happened


The Sabres outshot the Jets 13-6 despite having to kill a pair of penalties. Tyson Jost was credited with four of those shots, including a pair of rebound opportunities that were stuffed by Hellebuyck.

Rasmus Dahlin drew a trip against Pierre-Luc Dubois during the final minute, setting the Sabres up with 1:46 of power-play time to open the second period.


The Sabres were unsuccessful on the power play to open period. They went on to do plenty of damage at 5-on-5. 

Buffalo dominated possession in the Winnipeg zone, beginning with a routine forechecking shift from the line of Zemgus Girgensons, Peyton Krebs, and Kyle Okposo. The shifts rolled from there until Power eventually opened the scoring with a short-side shot at 10:32.

Video: BUF@WPG: Power gives Sabres lead in 2nd period

The top-line trio of Skinner, Tuch, and Thompson connected on the rush to extend the lead at 14:15. Skinner made the initial pass to Tuch, who drew Hellebuyck out of the net before passing back to Thompson in the middle of the ice. 

Video: BUF@WPG: Thompson doubles Sabres’ lead in 2nd period

The Sabres outshot the Jets 14-5 in the period. Shot attempts were 25-10.


Schmidt was assessed two minutes for roughing after injuring Dylan Cozens with the butt end of his stick midway through the period. Olofsson buried a rebound on the ensuing power play. Cozens, however, left for the dressing room after the hit did not return. 

Video: BUF@WPG: Olofsson nets 23rd goal of season in 3rd

The Jets applied pressure late but fell short. On a power play with 4:46 to go, the Jets pulled Hellebucyk, which helped set up a goal in the slot by Schmidt to end Comrie’s shutout bid. Dubois added their second and final goal with 41.4 seconds remaining.


What we learned

1. Granato said Cozens was feeling well after the game and would have returned had there been more time on the clock.

2. The Sabres were without defenseman Mattias Samuelsson, who was scratched prior to warmups with a lower-body injury. Granato said Samuelsson is progressing well and has not been ruled out for Saturday’s game against Minnesota.

Kale Clague entered the lineup for Samuelsson and skated on a defense pair with Dahlin. He finished with two shots and two blocks in 15:15 of action.

“We have a guy that we believe in and know can fit in and do well, and Clague was very good tonight,” Granato said. “So, that’s a comforting feeling.”

3. Power became the first rookie defenseman in Sabres history to score goals in three consecutive games. He’s the third-youngest defenseman from any team to accomplish the feat in the last 35 years, according to NHL Public Relations.

Tweet from @PR_NHL: Owen Power now owns the longest goal streak ever by a @BuffaloSabres rookie defenseman. He���s also the third-youngest blueliner from any club to post a goal streak of 3+ games over the past 35 years.#NHLStats:

“I know he hasn’t been talked about for rookie of the year,” Granato said. “It’s astonishing to me, because I don’t know how he couldn’t be. What he does on a nightly basis is just amazing when you factor in his age and lack of experience in our league, to dominate situations and really full games the way he does.” 

Up next

The road trip concludes Saturday in Minnesota. Coverage on MSG begins at 8:30 p.m. The puck drops at 9. 

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