BUFFALO, NY — Jeff Skinner scored twice, his second goal capped a burst of three goals in the second half, and the Buffalo Sabers beat St. Louis 6-2 on Wednesday night, ending the Blues’ seven-game winning streak.
Buffalo followed a 7-2 win in Montreal on Tuesday to claim back-to-back wins after ending an eight-game slack.
“For us, the last two games, we’ve had input from everyone,” Skinner said, referring to what’s changed since the skid.
“It’s a tough league, it’s going to be tough some nights and you’re going to go through different types of games, different types of adversities and you just have to fight your way through,” he added. “Hopefully we can keep this going for a bit longer.”
Minor league nominee Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 34 shots for his fourth career NHL win and first since December 16. In his second start since Eric Comrie sustained a lower body injury, Luukkonen made his best save with 4:24 to go in the second period when he knocked out his right pad to stop Vladimir Tarasenko lining up on the doorstep.
Rookie Jack Quinn capped the win with two goals in the third period, and Victor Olofsson and Dylan Cozens also scored.
Pavel Buchnevich and Brayden Schenn scored for the Blues, and Jordan Kyrou’s assist extended his points streak to six games (two goals, nine points).
Jordan Binnington stopped 25 shots in his first loss in seven starts and was disallowed in his attempt to win his 100th career game.
With St. Louis trailing 4-1, Buchnevich scored a second time 6-11 in the third half, but the goal was disallowed after the Sabers challenged the game for offside. Replays showed Tarasenko losing the ball just before entering Buffalo’s zone a step short of the puck.
The Blues’ seven-game winning streak was followed by an eight-game slip, with the most recent loss being a 5-1 loss in Philadelphia on November 8.
The challenge now is not to fall into a different rut.
“I think you just realize what you’ve just been through and what we did to get out of it. And now you have to stop it immediately,” said Schenn. “We’re going to play two good teams in Florida who are very capable of winning hockey games. And the mindset that goes in there is no easy game and you can’t take your foot off the gas or experience disappointment like we did this year before.”
A day after Buffalo scored three goals at Montreal’s first 2:13, Skinner opened the scoring after 18 seconds.
The Sabers then took control in the second half with three goals within 11 minutes, and after Buchnevich leveled the game with a power play goal after 53 seconds in the frame.
Skinner capped the climb by driving in from the left boards, sticking the puck through those legs to avoid Justin Falk, and then going against the grain by backhand shooting into the left post.
Buffalo drew energy from a boisterous Thanksgiving Eve crowd of 17,302 who waved to the Backstreet Boys hit “I Want it That Way” on ’90s Sabers night, which also saw the team sport their retro look and black and red “goat’s head” jerseys sang along. Fans also chanted “Luuuu” whenever Luukkonen made a big stop.
“Of course you notice it,” said Luukkonen. “I think that’s a big boost for the whole team and we always appreciate that. Above all, this strengthens self-confidence.”
Blues: At the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.
Sabers: Host the New Jersey Devils on Friday.
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