Quinn, Peterka and Levi all huge as Sabres roar back to crown Kings


Staff member

The scoreboard told a similar story as Tuesday night's disaster in Anaheim. The eye test told Sabres coach Don Granato something totally different.

There was no panic in Granato's team Wednesday in Crypto.com Arena. The Sabres were trailing the Los Angeles Kings, 3-1, after one period but had plenty of energy in the second half of their back to back. They were shooting the puck more and creating scoring chances.

Rookie goalie Devon Levi struggled in the first period as Buffalo fell into the two-goal hole but he was solid over the final 40 minutes. And his teammates kept pushing, forging a big rally to produce a 5-3 win over the turnover-riddled Kings.

"The mindset after first was great," said winger Jack Quinn. "We actually were happy with the compete. We obviously weren't happy with being down, 3-1, but we thought we competed well and we just wanted to hit the repeat button on that."

"We knew (Tuesday) was probably one of our worst games so we wanted to make it a way different game," said winger JJ Peterka, who led the Buffalo offense with two goals. "Going down was obviously not what we planned. But I think just sticking to our game plan, playing hard, forechecking hard is what got us the two points here."

Peterka led the Buffalo offense and joined Quinn (1-2-3) in posting their first career three-point nights. Alex Tuch scored the tiebreaking goal at 5:49 of the third period, banging home a short shot after a nifty back pass from Eric Robinson, who was skating toward the corner and threw the puck behind him directly to Tuch.

Dylan Cozens gave the Sabres breathing room at 8:54 of the period with a wrist shot that Los Angeles goalie Cam Talbot flubbed with his glove.
The Sabres improved to 21-23-4 with the win while the season continues to be a speeding train out of control for the Kings. Through 31 games, they were 20-7-4. Since then, they are 2-7-5 and have become one of the NHL's worst home teams at 8-9-6.

It was a super loose game with pucks flying all over the rink and that played into the Sabres' hands. The shots on goal were 40-37 for Los Angeles, meaning Levi stopped the final 34 shots he faced.

The Kings scored three goals on their first six shots against Levi and two of them were not good ones as Adrian Kempe and Pierre Luc Dubois beat Levi with unscreened shots.

The Sabres erased the 3-1 hole in the second as Peterka scored his second on a breakaway at 8:22 after a diving backhand pass from Quinn sent him away, and Quinn tied it at 10:30 on a Casey Mittelstadt feed.
"They competed to a better level," said coach Don Granato. "They knew they didn't play well the other day, and they dialed into a game plan that was laid out for them. They could see they could see a way that they could come back the way they could win. And then you could see the conviction they played with."

Here are some other items on the game:

1. Okposo moves up

The game marked captain Kyle Okposo's 500th with the Sabres since he joined them as a free agent in 2016. His goal late in the third period Tuesday in Anaheim was his 100th with Buffalo.

Okposo is the 32nd player to hit 500 games with Buffalo and the 36th to score 100 goals. Granato started Okposo on the first line Wednesday, starting him with Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner.

2. Numbers games​

In addition to being the first career three-point games for both Quinn and Peterka, each was a career-high plus-4 in the game.
Tuch had a game-high six shots on goal on 11 attempts. Tage Thompson had four shots on goal on 13 attempts, with five missing the net. Quinn had five shots on goal and Peterka was one of four players with four.

3. Medical report​

Defenseman Mattias Samuelsson missed the game with soreness stemming from Tuesday's contest and was replaced in the lineup by Jacob Bryson, who had not appeared for the Sabres since Nov. 4 in Toronto.

The Sabres played most of the second period minus two forwards. After Zemgus Girgensons left with an upper-body injury and playing only 61 seconds of the first period, Cozens suffered an upper-body injury in the second but returned to the third. He skated to the bench, slammed the bench door shut and threw his stick down the runway before heading down the tunnel to the dressing room.

Granato had no updated report on Samuelsson's status.

4. History book​

Wednesday was the 36th anniversary of the only NHL All-Star Game played in Buffalo. On January 24, 1978, the Wales Conference posted a 3-2 overtime win over the Campbell Conference in Memorial Auditorium -- as Rick Martin scored the tying goal inside the two final two minutes of regulation and Gilbert Perreault netted the winner in overtime.

But it was also memorable for the fact that New York Islanders/Campbell Conference goalie Billy Smith was named the MVP in a vote clearly taken before the result turned. The Buffalo fans vociferously booed Smith's presentation.

5. Next​

The Sabres took Thursday off and will return to practice Friday at the Kings' facility in nearby El Segundo. They will then fly to San Jose after the workout and will meet the Sharks Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. Eastern time in their final game before the All-Star break.

After that, they won't play again until hosting Dallas on Feb. 6 in KeyBank Center.