Sabres stun Canucks 6-3 on Mitchell’s 2 goals
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — With their top two scorers missing, Chris Stewart and the Buffalo Sabres scored their most goals in three months.
“We came at them in waves,” Stewart said. “It was probably one of the few games this year that we’ve had four lines rolling top to bottom.”
Stewart had a goal and an assist, and Torrey Mitchell scored a pair of goals as the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Vancouver Canucks 6-3 on Thursday night.
Buffalo was without Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons, who were both injured in Tuesday’s win over Nashville.
“Our two leading scorers being out, other guys need to step up,” Mitchell said. “I felt like it was a group effort tonight and everyone picked up their slack a little bit.”
It was Mitchell’s first goal since Nov. 22, and his first multi-goal night since March 23, 2011.
Andrej Meszaros, Brian Flynn and Brian Gionta also scored for the last-place Sabres, who have victories in consecutive games for just the fourth time this season.
Vancouver got goals from Shawn Matthias, Daniel Sedin and Jannik Hansen as it finished a five-game road trip with a 3-2 record.
“When we play with confidence, play with that in-your-face tight gap, we don’t give them much,” said Sabres captain Gionta, who added two assists.
For the Canucks, the six-goal outburst against the league’s worst offense is a big concern. Starting goaltender Ryan Miller is out 4-6 weeks, and Eddie Lack allowed five goals on 23 shots before Gionta’s empty-netter.
“I didn’t play well enough and no one really played well enough,” Lack said.
Buffalo drew an early power play, and Cody Hodgson had a goal disallowed when he slapped the puck past Eddie Lack with his hand.
The Sabres brought some life to a quiet arena with the first quality scoring chance of the game. Mitchell and Matt Moulson combined for a give-and-go that Mitchell buried for his fourth goal of the season.
“I haven’t scored in a long time and it feels good to help the team out,” Mitchell said. “I’m a defensive forward, a checker, but it’s good to help out at the end of the rink.”
Vancouver came right back 62 seconds later with its own 2-on-1, with Matthias fooling Michael Neuvirth with a no-look wrist shot to tie the score at 1.
“We should’ve been firing on all cylinders tonight,” Matthias said. “It’s the last one of a big road trip and an important one, and it wasn’t good enough.”
Neuvirth had just made a save with his mask when Vancouver got its second of the night. After working the puck around the Buffalo zone, Hansen sent a low slap shot through traffic that beat a well-screened Neuvirth.
Stewart forced a turnover in the neutral zone and earned a breakaway. Lack got a piece of Stewart’s wrist shot but the puck trickled across the line before Adam Clendening gloved it out.
“It wasn’t a picture-perfect goal, but I got a bounce and I’ll take them as they come,” Stewart said.
Buffalo retook the lead 4:46 of the third, when Meszaros was allowed to skate in from the left point before blasting a slap shot under two leaping Sabres and past Lack.
Daniel Sedin found the equalizer less than three minutes later, drifting into the high slot before wristing a shot over Neuvirth’s right shoulder.
That’s when Mitchell crouched to backhand a loose puck over a sprawling Lack, lifting Buffalo to a 4-3 lead.
“Torrey Mitchell, for the last number of games he’s been playing tremendous for us,” said Sabres head coach Ted Nolan. “Sometimes he should get the credit for blocking shots and playing defense.”
Flynn added a goal with under two minutes to play when Stewart caught Lack out of goal and found his center with an empty net to shoot at.
Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said the loss dampens an otherwise successful road trip.
“Whenever you lose it’s not going to be positive, it just won’t be,” he said. “You have to find a way to win that game. We’re excited about the games we won, but that doesn’t do anything for us tonight. Tonight was the only one that counted.”
NOTES: Moulson also had a pair of assists for the Sabres. ... Clendening, who grew up in nearby Wheatfield, played his first game against the Sabres. ... Miller used Twitter to express disappointment at being injured for his first scheduled date in Buffalo since being traded on Feb. 28, 2014.