LAS VEGAS – Their one real chance at a day off on this Western road trip came Sunday, so the Buffalo Sabres took advantage of it.
A free day in Sin City was a fine reward for all the good things that happened during Saturday night’s 3-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes in Gila River Arena.
The opener of a five-game jaunt was a memorable night of mileposts. As a result, the Sabres improved to 3-2 – forging a record with more wins Wholesale jerseys
than combined losses this deep in a season for the first time since they were 16-12-3 on Dec. 16, 2011.
Most notable, of course, was the first NHL goal from No. 1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin. It came just 2:45 into the first period as the 18-year-old sprung Jeff Skinner with an outlet pass and alertly followed the play as Skinner undressed defenseman Jason Demers and got in alone on goalie Antti Raanta.
Skinner nearly scored on his own but got in too deep. Still, he was able to poke the puck into the crease, where Dahlin overpowered Arizona forward Brad Richardson to drive it into the empty net.
“It was awesome. I was very happy for him,” said goalie and fellow Swede Linus Ullmark. “I didn’t realize at first who scored, then I saw some small dude over there cheering a lot. I was very happy for him and I think there’s a lot to come with that.”
Through five games, Dahlin has become progressively more daring about getting into the play. His confidence is clearly growing about starting the rush or joining in when it’s already in motion. If he’s conservatively looming back at the blueline on this play, for instance, there’s no chance to score.
“It comes up in situations when you can go in the rush,” Dahlin said. “I take what’s given. I don’t force anything but when the situation comes up, I take it.”
“It was a heck of a play because we’ve been talking about driving to the net and getting there and it happened to be Rasmus,” said coach Phil Housley. “He has tremendous instincts. Just a knack of finding the open man with the puck or following up and filling in a hole adding on the rush. He just went with his instincts, went to the net and made a strong play on it to get the rebound.”