3 things the Buffalo Sabres can take into their West Coast finale against the Sharks

The Buffalo Sabres found out how to win last night in their comeback victory against the Los Angeles Kings, but they need to repeat that effort on Saturday.

Jan 24, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens (24) is congratulated
Jan 24, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens (24) is congratulated / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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The Buffalo Sabres have the talent and there is no denying it, having rallied following four periods when opponents outscored them 6-2 in their California road trip. We have also seen the Sabres put up more than their fair share of inspiring performances in the 2024 calendar year alone, further indicating this team is better than their 21-23-4 record. 

There are a few things the Sabres did last night that let them pull off a rare comeback win, which saw them fall behind by two goals within the game’s first 10 minutes. And they are strategies the Blue and Gold must continue into Saturday and beyond. Let’s explore them and take a close look at what the Sabres must do if they want to finally embark on that evasive hot streak. 

3 things the Buffalo Sabres must repeat for Saturday’s contest

1 - Taking advantage of an opponent’s weakness

The Sabres climbed back into last night’s contest because they found the Kings weaknesses, took advantage, and ended up shutting them out after the first 10 minutes of the game. Luckily for the Sabres, they already faced the Sharks once and they know how to get the best one of the NHL’s worst teams.

This isn’t just something Buffalo needs to take into Saturday’s game, but once again, if they want to get back into the wild card hunt following the All-Star Break, it must be an every game thing. Last night, they pressured Los Angeles and forced them to be reckless with the puck, and they must follow that same blueprint against the Sharks.  

2 - Get the puck to the playmakers

Even when JJ Peterka wasn’t scoring earlier in the year, he was still creating chances for himself and taking shots, but he’s since found his groove. Peterka took four shots on goal last night and converted two of them into scores. He’s taken 13 shots over the past five games, and each time, you see him outpacing everyone on the ice to set up a scoring opportunity, making him a go-to game in and game out.

Tage Thompson didn’t score, but you can’t deny his effort, as he was all over the ice and ended up logging four shots. Alex Tuch also jumped out, as did Jack Quinn, and Jeff Skinner. While Peterka and Quinn put on a show, Tuch led the way with six shots on goal. In short, the Blue and Gold must keep finding their playmakers and making them an integral part of the game.

3 - The lines

While a couple of lines last night contained a different look, mainly with Kyle Okposo skating with Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner, the combos worked well with one another. Despite his age, Okposo still plays with an edge, and it’s something needed on the Tage Thompson line when Zach Benson is in the press box.

Ditto for having Jordan Greenway and Alex Tuch teaming with Casey Mittelstadt, while we all know how good the Kid Line can be when they’re in sync. The Buffalo Sabres would be wise to keep these lines and pairings the same for at least the final contest of January, and perhaps even following the All-Star Break. 

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(Statistics and information provided by Hockey-Reference and NHL.com)