VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)Rasmus Dahlin scored for the fifth straight game, extending his NHL record for defenseman to open a season, and added an assist as the Buffalo Sabres beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 Saturday night.
Victor Oloffson had two goals an an assist, Alex Tuch and Zemgus Girgensons also scored and Casey Mittlestadt added two assists for the Sabres in their third straight win. Craig Anderson stopped 29 shots.
”I think it starts from hard work and we really deserve this confidence we have right now,” Dahlin said. ”We’re playing away games but we’re playing them really, really good and we’re really starting to find our game.”
Conor Garland scored for the Canucks, who remained the league’s only winless team (0-4-2). Thatcher Demko had 22 saves.
Trailing 3-1, Vancouver pulled Demko in favor of an extra attacker with less than four minutes to go and Girgensons put an easy shot into the yawning net with 3 1/2 minutes remaining. Just 50 seconds later, Olofsson put a shot past the Canucks’ goalie for his second of the game.
Three Vancouver jerseys hit the ice in the game’s waning minutes and boos accompanied players as they left the ice.
”It was the first time I’ve ever been involved with that,” Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau said. ”And obviously I hope the players feel the same way I feel about it, it’s just totally embarrassing. It’s something you never want to see.”
The fan’s reaction was fair, according to Garland.
”We haven’t won a hockey game yet. But we’re working,” he said. ”We just have to be a lot better and we just have to put a full game together. . We’re confident in this group. We’re a really good hockey team. We just need to win games and get going here. It’s just been tough.”
Trailing 2-0, Vancouver got on the scoreboard midway through the second period with a power-play goal after Dahlin was called for tripping. Stationed in front of the Sabres’ net, Tanner Pearson sent a blind, spinning, backhand pass to Garland and the forward fired it past Anderson from the low hash mark.
The Sabres regained a two-goal advantage 1:54 into the third off a 2-on-1 as Mittelstadt sliced a pass across the slot and Olofsson snapped a shot past Demko.
”We were under a pretty good barrage in the second and (Anderson) and our group of defensemen, I thought played really well,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. ”And the third we needed to get back to a little bit more of our game. We were able to do that early and (Mittelstadt) and (Olofsson) teamed up and that was a really big moment for us.”
The Sabres lost defenseman Mattias Samuelsson after he hit Curtis Lazar along the end boards about three minutes into the middle period. Samuelsson went down awkwardly after the contact and lay writhing on the ice, grabbing his right knee before a trainer came out to help him to the bench. He went directly to the Buffalo locker room and did not return.
Buffalo opened the scoring with an early power-play goal after Tyler Myers was called for tripping Tage Thompson. Dahlin ripped a shot from inside the blue line and the puck hit Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson in the high slot before sailing in past Demko 5:35 into the game.
After Vancouver’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson gave away the puck in the slot, Tuch was there to pick it up and whip a shot under Demko’s arm to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead with 4:42 left in the first.
BRUISED BLUE LINE
Vancouver was missing three defensemen with various ailments, including star Quinn Hughes (undisclosed). The team called up Noah Juulsen from Abbotsford of the AHL earlier on Saturday and defenseman Jack Rathbone made his season debut.
Buffalo: At Seattle on Tuesday in last of a four-game trip.
Vancouver: At Carolina on Monday.
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