Winger Victor Olofsson and center Peyton Krebs netted two goals each to help the Buffalo Sabres lead 6-3 over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.
In the third period, Olofsson put the Sabres in a 4-3 lead by finishing off a 2-on-1 break with teammate Ilya Lyubushkin. He made his second goal just around six minutes later, helping the Sabres to be ahead of the opponent 5-3.
The additional two goals pushed Olofsson’s total goal to 21 this season, which is his career-high record. He also scored in his last three games.
“I feel like I had a great start [to the season] and that helped me a lot,” Olofsson said. “And then I had a small dip and I feel like these last 10 games we’ve been really clicking as a line, too, with [Casey Mittelstadt] and [Tyson] Jost.”
Meanwhile, Krebs’ made his first goal in the second period and put the Sabres ahead of the opponent 3-2. He successfully made a rebound of teammate Rasmus Dahlin’s wraparound bid. In the third period, Krebs gave Buffalo the final score to seal its victory.
Sabres head coach Don Granato praised Krebs’ performance that night, saying the center’s talent and skills coupled with his diligence help him to “keep getting better.”
Granato especially pointed out Krebs’ exceptional second goal. The coach said the team had never seen Krebs perform such a stunt before. Granato added that Krebs must have been sure about being able to make a goal from his difficult spot at that time.
Other Buffalo players also helped secure the win for the team. Center Dylan Cozens and left winger Jeff Skinner also scored one goal each. Both players made their goals in the first period, making Buffalo lead 2-0 entering the second part of the game.
Lyubushkin recorded three assists on Saturday. Meanwhile, goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 34 saves for the Sabres.
Analysts noted that Olofsson had been dealing with adversities from time to time this season. Many people said his game was too one-dimensional.
During stretches, the winger often struggled at even strength and also lost ice time, cementing the belief that he only leaned on power and lethal shot.
In early December, Granato decided to put Olofsson with Jost and Mittelstadt. The trios struggled for several games, with analysts saying they were at times invisible on offense while the team got scored on.
Granato defended his decision to let Olofsson and his offense partners work through the difficulty for several weeks. The coach said the team would be “in trouble” if they could not handle challenges.
Olofsson said that he and the others had developed great chemistry. The Swedish players said Jost and Mitterstadt gave him great passes. He also praised Jost, whose offense skills he said were often overlooked.
Ducks coach Dallas Eakins blamed “mental mistakes” as part of the reason why his team lost on Saturday. He explained that although Anaheim was still rebuilding, it should have showcased a perfect game. Eakins added that these mistakes “can’t happen.”
“Just mental mistakes. It’s a game that we’re totally in, we battle back.”
Dallas Eakins, Head Coach of the Anaheim Ducks
Anaheim’s center Trevor Zegras rewarded his team with two goals during the game. Zegras’ two goals in the second period helped Anaheim to catch up after failing to score at all in the first period.
Defenseman Simon Benoit contributed to the Ducks’ other goal. Benoit’s goal at 15:29 tied the game 3-3 entering the last period. Meanwhile, goaltender John Gibson made 33 saves.
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