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No offense means another road loss
Sabres take 3-0 win in matinee
1/15/2024 - By Mike Lee

The big upside to the Sharks game on Monday, was that they got it over with early. San Jose continued their 5-game East Coast road trip with an early start in Buffalo as the nation honored Martin Luther King Jr. with the national holiday. The Sharks struggled offensively and fell to the Sabres 3-0 at KeyBank Center.

You can't win in the NHL if you don't score any goals. San Jose didn't apply much pressure in the offensive zone, which allowed goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to cruise to the victory. San Jose put 27 shots on goal, but they just lacked any sustained pressure.

It was a missed opportunity, coming against a team that has struggled themselves. The Sabres haven't made a playoff appearance in 13 years, and this season's underwhelming team doesn't appear to be on track to change that.

San Jose just couldn't generate any hop in their step and it cost them. Their arrival in Buffalo was delayed by a day, so they missed practice on Sunday. The kink in their schedule may have been one reason they were lacking any pop in their game, but this is a team that can't afford to lean on excuses. They need to find ways to generate positive consistency regardless of their environment.

The opening period was uneventful for both teams. Each squad put 8 shots on net, none of which were of the threatening variety. Kaapo Kahkonen made his first appearance in net since January 9th when the Sharks were run out of the building by Toronto.

Casey Mittelstadt finally broke the ice with his 12th goal of the season at 11:34 of the middle period. The Sabres forward collected a Kyle Okposo feed as Buffalo gained the zone. Creeping in on net, Mittelstadt used traffic in front of Kahkonen to weave a shot home low to the stick side.

A high sticking penalty to Fabian Zetterlund spelled doom for the league's worst penalty kill 3 minutes later. Alex Tuch snapped a shot from between the circles on the power play to push the Sabres lead to 2-0 at 14:37. Tuch's shot rang off the left post, but did so at a trajectory that continued into the scoring area.

A Ryan Johnson holding penalty at 15:34 allowed the Sharks to try and match Buffalo's power play goal, but it turned into an unfulfilled opportunity for San Jose. Anthony Duclair had a pair of chances in front, but the Sabres defense squashed the chances.

The sharks were forced to pull Kahkonen with 3 minutes left in regulation, but that allowed Jordan Greenway to pot his 4th goal of the season on the empty net chance.

Luukkonen finished the game with a 27 shot shutout.

Game Notes:

* The start time to the game was moved up an hour in response to the Buffalo Bills playoff game being shifted from Sunday to Monday. The blizzard conditions that hit Buffalo left so much snow inside Highland Stadium in Orchard Park unplayable. Rather than compete with viewers, the NHL moved the game up, which meant a Noon start time locally, or 9:00am in the Bay Area.

* Native son Justin Bailey made his return to his hometown on Monday. Bailey was born in Buffalo and his father played for the Buffalo Bills.

* Mike Hoffman missed his second game of the season. It was unclear if Hoffman was dealing with an injury, if the Sharks were giving him a maintenance day or if it was disciplinary.

* This was the 7th time San Jose has been shutout this season. They have yet to shutout an opponent. Their 6 road shutouts is a franchise record.

* The Sharks conclude their 5-game road trip with a quick turnaround, as San Jose will play the Blackhawks sans Connor Bedard who is recovering from a broken jaw.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 0 0 0 0
BUF 0 2 1 3
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, BUF, Mittelstadt 12 (Okposo, Johnson), 11:34. 2, BUF, Tuch 12 (Quinn, Mittelstadt), 14:37, (pp).
3rd period - 3, BUF, Greenway 4 (Mittelstadt, Dahlin), 16:34, (en).
1st period - None.
2nd period - Zetterlund, SJ (high sticking), 13:36; Johnson, BUF (holding), 15:34.
3rd period - Burroughs, SJ (interference), 5:40; Girgensons, BUF (interference), 5:40; Power, BUF (hooking), 7:53; Okhotiuk, SJ (hooking), 11:08.
Shots Saves
SJ - Kahkonen 34 32
SJ - empty net 1 0
BUF - Luukkonen 27 27
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 8 11 8 27
BUF 7 12 16 35
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 2
BUF 1 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
Casey Mittelstadt
Alex Tuch
KeyBank Center - 16,186
Referees: #30 Kendrick Nicholson, #38 Peter MacDougall. Linesmen: #71 Brad Kovachik, #52 Shandor Alphonso.

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