Ducks outduel Sabres to end losing streak

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Ducks ended a three-game losing streak on Angels Night thanks to two goals from Jakob Silfverberg.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Ducks snapped a three-game losing streak with a win on Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres.

Jakob Silfverberg started the scoring for Anaheim, getting a stick on a Radko Gudas slap shot from the point. This goal put Silfverberg in sole possession of sixth all-time on the Ducks’ goals leaderboard and a tie for fifth all-time with former teammate Rickard Rakell.

Olen Zellweger made his NHL debut, paired with Ilya Lyubushkin. He also assumed a role on the power play and wasted no time making an impact. After Henri Jokiharju tripped up Leo Carlsson, the Ducks’ power play got to work, with Zellweger zipping a shot from the point and Sam Carrick batting home––poetically, on Angels Night––the rebound.

“(Shots from the point) are something I’ve worked on and I kind of feel a calmness looking for that lane (to shoot from),” said Zellweger. “So it was good that those got through on net.”

“I didn’t notice him that much, which is good,” said head coach Greg Cronin. “When I did notice him, it was offensively. He was shooting the puck, he was sliding across the blue line. I think (assistant coach) Brent Thompson did a good job managing the matchups with him. He almost scored there in the second. I thought it was a really good baptism for him in the NHL.”

Less than a minute later, Anaheim would increase their lead to three after Connor Clifton stumbled while handling the puck in the neutral zone. Mason McTavish collected the loose puck and sped down the wing, feeding Silfverberg on the odd-man rush for his second goal of the game and sole possession of fifth all-time on the Ducks’ goals leaderboard.

The two tallies brought Silfverberg’s season total to four, with three of those goals coming in the past week. Before that, he hadn’t scored since Dec. 10.

“It brings a lot of confidence,” said Silfverberg. “It brings a little bit of an extra jump to your legs. You feel a little bit fresher. Hopefully (the goals) won’t take as long again. Hopefully, I’ll keep this thing kind of rolling and help the team win that way.”

Cronin praised the line of Silfverberg, McTavish and Isac Lundeström and pointed to the two Swedes as players that have given McTavish a boost in the last two games. “We’re trying to find a combination that will give us a Second Line A and a Second Line B if you want to call it that and that’s what we came up with tonight. I thought it worked pretty well.”

Jan 23, 2024; Anaheim, California, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Mason McTavish (23) celebrates with defenseman Urho Vaakanainen (5) and center Isac Lundestrom (21) after a goal against the Buffalo Sabres in the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Things appeared to be in cruise control with under six minutes to go in the third, but the Sabres would draw within one in two minutes. Jordan Greenway deflected a Rasmus Dahlin point shot on the power play and then provided a screen for Kyle Okposo to shoot through with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen pulled for the extra attacker. Fortunately, Adam Henrique would put the game away with just over a minute to go in the third with an empty net goal.

“Got maybe a little bit too excited at the end there,” said Silfverberg. “They had a good push with the last couple of minutes there, but (John Gibson) came up with some huge saves and at the end of the day, we get two points.”

“We played hard,” said Cronin. “I thought we did the right things as far as managing the puck. They pushed. They’re a good team and they obviously were upset about the way they played and they came at us hard. (Gibson) was good and I thought we were pretty solid on the 5-on-6 after they got the (second) goal.”

Troy Terry went to the locker room early in the third period after being knocked to the ground from behind, but returned to the game, taking two shifts. Cronin said that Terry had an upper-body injury that was aggravated but that he was fine.