Hutton stops 27 shots in Blues’ 1-0 win over Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Carter Hutton stopped 27 shots, and Carl Gunnarsson banked in a shot off the crossbar with 5:41 left in the St. Louis Blues’ 1-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.
Hutton earned his third shutout of the season and 11th of his career while improving to 9-1-1 in his past 11 games, in which he’s allowed just 17 goals. His best save came with 32 seconds left when he spread-eagled through the crease by kicking out his right skate to stop Sam Reinhart, who was set up alone at the right post.
Hutton was also fortunate with 3 seconds left when Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen’s shot from the blue line hit the post in a game that proved to be a goaltending duel.
Buffalo’s Robin Lehner made 32 saves in the loss and had little chance to stop Gunnarsson’s shot.
Paul Stastny set up the goal by winning a faceoff to the left of the Sabres net and drawing it back to Gunnarsson at the point. Drawing the puck back on his stick, Gunnarsson snapped a rising shot through a crowd that sailed over Lehner’s right shoulder, just before the goalie could get his blocker up, and it bounced in off the crossbar.
It was the fifth goal this season for Gunnarsson, who was reinserted into the lineup after sitting out the previous three games as a healthy scratch.
St. Louis improved to 4-1 in its past five while bouncing back from a 3-1 loss at Boston on Thursday. The Blues also continued their domination of the Sabres by improving to 11-1 in their past 12 meetings and 21-3 in their past 24 dating to the 1998-99 season.
The Sabres lost their third straight and were shut out for the fifth time this season.
Blues coach Mike Yeo’s bid to generate more offense failed to pay off after he reunited St. Louis’ top line of Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko. The move came in Schwartz’s fourth game since returning to the lineup after missing 20 with a lower-body injury, and with the Blues having scored just six even-strength goals in their past five games.
The Sabres’ offensive struggles continued, particularly at home. They entered the day having league-lows with 117 goals scored and 47 at home _ including a 3-2 overtime loss to the Rangers in the Winter Classic played in New York City.
Both goalies were sharp in the second period, in which the Blues had a 12-10 edge in shots.
Hutton got over to his right in time to stop Jack Eichel’s snap shot from the left circle some three minutes into the period. He also got a piece of Marco Scandella’s shot from the slot that was deflected in front with 2:12 left in the period.
Hutton’s best saves came during a Sabres power play with just under eight minutes left. First he got a piece of Kyle Okposo’s slap shot from the right circle and recovered in time to stop Ryan O’Reilly attempting to convert the rebound at the right post.
Lehner’s best stops came during a short span just under six minutes into the third period. Evander Kane’s giveaway led to Schenn breaking in alone. Faking right and going to his left, Schenn had Lehner down only to shoot it into the goalie’s pad. Some five seconds later, Lehner got across to his left in time to smother Tarasenko’s one-timer from the slot.
NOTES: Former Sabres captain an current Blues assistant coach Steve Ott nearly took the wrong turn out of the elevator on way to the locker room during first intermission. Ott laughed and said: “I didn’t spend any time in the press box here as a healthy scratch.” … Sabres C Johan Larsson served the first of a two-game NHL suspension for cross-checking Florida forward Vincent Trocheck in the face during Buffalo’s 4-2 loss on Thursday. … The Sabres activated D Nathan Beaulieu from IR and sent RW Nicholas Baptiste to AHL Rochester.
Blues: Host Minnesota on Tuesday.
Sabres: Continue a five-game homestand against Anaheim on Tuesday.