Sabres' offense finally breaks through, UPL earns another shutout in 7-0 win


Staff member

Zach Benson collected a pass in front of the Los Angeles Kings' net without an opposing defenseman anywhere near the Buffalo Sabres rookie.
Benson quickly stickhandled, then beat goalie David Rittich with a shot that caused the crowd to roar Tuesday night in KeyBank Center.

The Sabres were ahead by five goals, a long-awaited offensive breakthrough after a challenging pair of losses since the All-Star break. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, their starting goalie, took care of the rest.

Six Sabres scored, five recorded multiple points and Luukkonen delivered another strong performance as Buffalo won in a rout, 7-0.

Benson, JJ Peterka, Kyle Okposo, Rasmus Dahlin and Alex Tuch had a goal apiece, and Jordan Greenway scored twice to help the Sabres snap a two-game losing streak. Dahlin, Peterka, Tuch and Jacob Bryson had two points apiece. Greenway also delivered a three-point night, tying his career-high.

“We did a lot of good things tonight," said Greenway. "We played at a great pace that I just don’t think that they could keep up with. It paid off for us early and, yeah, I think if we stick to that game and commit to playing it every night, we can beat some good teams. That’s a good team we just beat there, so we just got to repeat it."

Luukkonen made 33 saves to earn his fourth shutout of the season, which is the most by a Sabres goalie since Ryan Miller had six in 2011-12.

The Sabres (23-25-4) led 3-0 at the first intermission and 5-0 after two periods, stunning an opponent that was three days removed from beating the Edmonton Oilers, 4-0. The Kings (24-16-10) were thoroughly outplayed from the start and never recovered.

David Rittich was replaced by Cam Talbot in goal at the start of the third period after the former allowed five goals on 17 shots.

"I think, the first shift, we spent a minute and 10 seconds in our own zone," said Kings interim coach Jim Hiller. "And that probably was a pretty good, microcosm of what happened the rest of the way. We weren't ready, and we got fed and it continued to happen for the rest of the game."

Buffalo's power play, which ranked 29th in the NHL, scored on the Kings' top-ranked penalty kill when Okposo tipped a shot in the second period. The Sabres were without defenseman Owen Power, who will miss at least one week with an upper-body injury that he suffered Monday at practice.

The seven goals were the most by the Sabres since a 9-3 win over the Maple Leafs on Dec. 21.

"We got to be happy, be excited be confident about what we did tonight and just expect this out of ourselves day in and day out," said Greenway. "And I think, if we stick to that game plan, we can string a lot of wins together."

First period​

  • The Sabres' starting line – Greenway, Tuch and Casey Mittelstadt – controlled the puck in the offensive zone for 90 seconds to start the game, then the group that followed, led by Dylan Cozens, created chaos by crashing the Kings' net.
  • Peterka gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead when the winger collected a pass from Greenway in the slot, then sent a shot toward the Kings' net that leaked through Rittich. Peterka circled the net to swipe the puck across the goal line for his 19th goal of the season with 15:35 left in the first period.
  • Jeff Skinner collected the puck in the high slot, skated toward the right hashmark and challenged Rittich with a shot that sent the puck off the Kings goalie's stick.
  • Kings center Pierre Luc-Dubois hit the post with 8:21 left in the first period.
  • Henri Jokiharju assumed Power's role on one of the Sabres' power-play units, though Buffalo's lone scoring chances during it's first opportunity occurred as the penalty expired with Okposo stickhandling between his legs to earn a shot from atop the crease.
  • Bryson, who drew into the lineup with Power out, thwarted a Kings rush chance by poke-checking the puck off Quinton Byfield's stick.
  • The Sabres took a 2-0 lead with 3:02 left in the first period when Greenway scored his seventh of the season. Mittelstadt pressured Kings defenseman Drew Doughty into attempting a pass up the middle of the ice. Greenway intercepted the puck and scored with a low shot between Rittich's legs.
  • Luukkonen's most challenging save of the period was a glove stop on Trevor Lewis, who got open for a one-timer from the slot.
  • Okposo gave the Sabres a 3-0 lead with his power-play goal. The Sabres captain tipped Cozens' shot for his 11th goal of the season at 19:25 into the first period.
  • The Sabres outshot the Kings, 10-5, but Los Angeles had more shot attempts (20-19). It was the first time in 11 games that Buffalo led at the first intermission. It scored two goals in its previous two losses to Dallas and St. Louis.

The past 11 months have been among the most challenging of Olofsson’s career. He's been a healthy scratch in 18 of the Sabres’ 52 games this season and 36% of their games dating to March 13, 2023.

Second period​

  • Tuch almost scored 38 seconds into the middle frame when he parked in front of the Kings' net and redirected a pass from Greenway. Tuch's shot went off the inside of Rittich's right leg and hit the left post.
  • Dahlin increased the Sabres' lead to 4-0 at 6:42 by collecting a pass at the right point and skating uncovered into the right circle, where he beat Rittich with a shot to the far post.
  • Peterka cut across the slot during an odd-man rush to challenge Rittich with a shot.
  • Benson scored his fifth goal of the season, and first since Dec. 15, at 14:33 to make it 5-0. Benson skated to the front of the Kings' net, collected a pass from Bryson, then stickhandled from backhand to forehand to backhand before scoring on a high shot.
  • Luukkonen made his finest save of the game during a Kings power play, as the Sabres starter quickly got over to his left to stop Adrian Kempe's one-timer.
  • The Sabres were outshot 10-1 over the final 6:45 of the second period and 16-9 overall during the middle frame.

Third period​

  • Tuch scored his 15th goal of the season with a shot off the far post and in at 4:30 into the third period, increasing the Sabres' lead to 6-0.
  • Luukkonen maintained his shutout with a pad save to stop Alex Laferriere during a 2-on-1 rush for Los Angeles.
  • Greenway scored his second goal of the game, and eighth of the season, at 7:50 to make it 7-0. He scored on a rebound created by Tuch's shot.


The Sabres will host the Florida Panthers on Thursday at 7 p.m., then Buffalo travels to Minnesota to face the Wild on Saturday at 5 p.m.