Okposo's two goals lift Buffalo to a 2-1 win over Winnipeg

Jonas Johansson earns his first career win in the NHL, stopping 25 of 26 shots on Sunday

Brayton Wilson
February 23, 2020 - 3:27 pm
Sabres celebrate

Photo: Mark Konezny - USA TODAY Sports

Following an impressive 5-2 win on Saturday afternoon over the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena, the Buffalo Sabres followed that up with a stout defensive effort in a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets at KeyBank Center.

All of the offense for the Sabres came from forward Kyle Okposo as he scored both of Buffalo's goals, including the game-winning goal to break a 1-1 tie in the third period.

In goal, Jonas Johansson was the star of the game, stopping 25 of 26 shots that he faced to earn his first win in the National Hockey League.

The Sabres got off to the better start on home ice, and it eventually led to the game's first goal courtesy of Okposo. After a Henri Jokiharju shot from the point was blocked in front by a Jets defenseman, the puck bounced off the skate of forward Zemgus Girgensons and right to Okposo, who just managed to put the rebound through Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck and in for his eighth goal of the season.

However, the Jets managed to wake up a bit after that goal and started to put up some good pressure in the Buffalo end.

Eventually, Winnipeg's hard work paid off as captain Blake Wheeler was the beneficiary of a nice passing play between him, Jansen Harkins and Mark Scheifele to even the score at 1-1. The goal all started off a failed clearing attempt from Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe that was held in at the point by Jets defenseman Neal Pionk.

The period ended with the score even at 1-1, but the Jets were able to control the second half of the period and outshoot the Sabres, 11-8.

The Jets continued to keep up the pressure to start the second period, forcing Johansson into a couple of nice saves. The first one was a great chance for the Jets on a mini-odd-man rush when Harkins had a nice chance from the slot, but Johansson got a blocker on the shot to make the save. Moments later, forward Nikolaj Ehlers had a great chance with the puck in some space, but his shot was denied by the glove hand of Johansson.

The Sabres were able to bounce back at the halfway point of the period and have a few good stretches of zone time in the Winnipeg end. At one point, the Sabres outshot the Jets 7-1 in the period, but failed to convert on their chances.

Despite the strong showing in the second half of the period, Buffalo failed to score as the game remained tied at 1-1 with the total shots also being even at 17-17.

Winnipeg got on the hop to start the third period again, and opened the first seven minutes of the frame with a 6-2 shot advantage.

However, it was Buffalo getting the go-ahead goal with 12:13 remaining in regulation as the Girgensons-Larsson-Okposo line went to work again. After a nice stretch pass to the Winnipeg blue line by defenseman Brandon Montour, Girgensons got enough of the puck to chip it to Okposo, who walked in on an odd-man rush with Johan Larsson. This time, Okposo used Larsson as a decoy and he was able to roof a shot over the short-side right shoulder of Hellebuyck to give the Sabres a 2-1 lead.

From there, Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger went into defensive mode, shortening some shifts while also shuffling some lines around to not allow the Jets to tie the hockey game. That strategy worked to perfection as Buffalo did not allow another Winnipeg shot in the final 9:24 of the game to preserve the win.

Johansson was also perfect in net for the Sabres on Sunday, stopping 25 of 26 shots faced to earn his first career NHL win.

 

GAME SUMMARY

 

Goal Summary:

First Period:

BUF: 9:58 - Kyle Okposo (8) (Zemgus Girgensons, Henri Jokiharju)
WPG: 16:37 - Blake Wheeler (21) (Jansen Harkins, Mark Scheifele)  

Second Period:

BUF: NONE
WPG: NONE

Third Period:

BUF: 7:47 - Kyle Okposo (9) (Zemgus Girgensons, Brandon Montour)
WPG: NONE

 

Penalty Summary:

First Period:

BUF: 11:44 - Brandon Montour (Tripping - 2 min.)
WPG: 7:18 - Patrik Laine (Tripping - 2 min.); 12:10 - Blake Wheeler (Hooking - 2 min.)

Second Period:

BUF: NONE
WPG: 2:08 - Blake Wheeler (High-sticking - 2 min.)

Third Period:

BUF: NONE
WPG: NONE


Strategic Financial Solutions Stats of the Game:

Shots on Goal:

BUF: 25 (8, 9, 8)
WPG: 26 (11, 6, 9)


Goalies:

BUF: Jonas Johansson - 25 saves
WPG: Connor Hellebuyck - 23 saves


Power Plays:

BUF: 0 for 3 (0%)
WPG: 0 for 1 (0%)


Three Stars presented by Losi and Gangi:

  1. Kyle Okposo - BUF
  2. Jonas Johansson - BUF
  3. Zemgus Girgensons - BUF


What's Next:

The Sabres are off for the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday before returning to practice on Tuesday in preparation for a four-game road trip, starting Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche. Faceoff at Pepsi Center is set for 8 p.m. with the Paul William Beltz Pregame Show starting at 7 p.m. with Brian Koziol on WGR.

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