Sabres (22-11-4) at Blues (17-15-5)
Sunday marked the only meeting between these two teams. Buffalo edged out a 4-3 victory in their lone meeting last year. The Sabres are coming off of a overtime loss against Ottawa while the Blues beat Minnesota on Saturday.
With both teams playing on back to back nights, they elected to go with their backup goaltenders. Patrick Lalime earned the start in net for Buffalo as Ty Conklin received the start for the Blues. Conklin entered the game with a perfect 6-0 record against the Sabres. He has also played in the last three Winter Classics, but his streak will end this year.
Despite Thomas Vanek back in the lineup, Buffalo had more injuries to deal with. Both Derek Roy and Drew Stafford were injured Saturday night against Ottawa. Roy and Stafford was not in the lineup. However, Patrick Kaleta and Chris Butler both made their returns. Kaleta made his presence known in his return to action Sunday night. He received three penalties in the opening period, but St. Louis could not capitalize on any of them.
St. Louis brought in a disappointing 6-11-2 record at home, while Buffalo had posted a 10-6 record on the road. Both power plays are ranked in the bottom five of the league, but St. Louis' penalty kill is ranked third.
Alex Steen began the scoring with his fourth goal of the season, giving the Blues a 1-0 lead. Buffalo's Jochen Hecht answered with a goal of his own, tying the game at one. It was the sixth of the season for Hecht.
In the second, Tim Kennedy found Mike Grier in front of the net to put Buffalo up 2-1. It wouldn't take long for St. Louis to respond. Eric Brewer scored his second of the season, tying the game back up again.
St. Louis would regain their one goal lead with another goal from Alex Steen late in the second period, but he was matched. Mike Grier scored his second of the night, with another assist from Kennedy, knotting the game at three. On the power play, Tim Connolly deflected in a shot from Chris Butler to put Buffalo back on top again.
With under five minutes to go, Buffalo took a penalty, giving St. Louis an opportunity to tie it up. Tyler Myers then blocked a shot that hit him in the face, but he managed to clear it out with a desperation dive. Mike Grier raced after it and passed it to Tim Connolly in the offensive zone, who then backhanded it past Conklin for the shorthanded goal and a 5-3 lead.
The Sabres were outshot 35-24, but managed to come out on top after a back and forth game. Lalime played strong again, earning the win and stopping 32 shots.
Connolly finished the night with three points, giving the Sabres a big 5-3 win over the Blues.
Kevin "Shorthanded Winner" Freiheit