Sabres riding high heading into matchup with Flames
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres are riding high after a surprising and compelling performance in Monday night's home victory over the rival Toronto Maple Leafs.
They'll look to carry that momentum into Wednesday's home game against the Calgary Flames.
On Monday, Buffalo (21-34-11) had one of its better efforts of the season in a 5-3 victory over the Maple Leafs. The Sabres were in control throughout the game. Buffalo got enough from its struggling offense with five goals and received an outstanding performance from backup goalie Chad Johnson.
"We didn't blink," Sabres forward Jason Pominville said, according to the team's website. "We got a couple bounces go our way for sure on a couple goals. But we didn't blink, we kept pushing. ... We stuck with it tonight and found a way, which was nice. Lately we've been doing it quite a bit. It's something we've got to build off of."
The win helped cap a nice stretch for the Sabres, who have struggled throughout most of the season. Buffalo has won three of its last four games (3-1-0) with wins over Toronto, Tampa Bay and Boston -- three of the better teams in the league. This stretch came after a serious of lengthy losing streaks in all other months of the season.
"It's tough for us to go through this last little bit, but we're trying to build something," Sabres forward Sam Reinhart said, according to the team's website. "We're trying to improve and keep this consistent play going. If we get an atmosphere like this any time, especially on this ice and to be able to put a good product out for them, that's motivation enough for us."
Reinhart's play has certainly been a positive for Buffalo as of late. The young forward has 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in his last 22 games.
"I'm just moving my feet, holding onto the puck, just playing naturally," Reinhart said, according to the team's website. "I think I use my knowledge of the game to my advantage but when I overthink things it doesn't go too well for me or doesn't go as well for me. I've just been able to relax and just play hockey and be more comfortable on the ice."
The Flames (32-25-10) are in the midst of a four-game losing streak and have lost seven of their last nine contests (2-5-2). They got a boost on Tuesday when starting goalie Mike Smith returned to practice after missing time with a lower-body injury.
"It was nice to get back with the guys," Smith said, according to the team's website. "Obviously it's been a while since I practiced. ... There's still some soreness involved but I think with any injury, there's going to be that when you push it a little harder. It's taking it day-by-day and hopefully get a little bit better here and get back in the lineup soon."
Calgary fell 4-3 in overtime at Pittsburgh on Monday but performed well in defeat.
Johnny Gaudreau leads the Flames in scoring with 74 points (20 goals, 54 assists).
Updated March 6, 2018