O'Reilly returns to Buffalo with Blues
The St. Louis Blues cooled off a red-hot foe Saturday by igniting a sputtering offense to end a season-high-tying, three-game losing streak.
The Blues bid to keep the momentum going on Sunday when they conclude a three-game road trip against the slumping Buffalo Sabres, who have lost seven in a row (0-6-1).
On Thursday, St. Louis endured a 2-0 setback against the NHL-worst Ottawa Senators. On Saturday, the Blues benefitted from defenseman Vince Dunn's first career two-goal performance, and they posted a 5-1 victory over Pittsburgh, which had won six of its previous seven games.
"We had more desperation and urgency in this game for sure than in the Ottawa game," Blues interim coach Craig Berube told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We just were in better spots to score goals. We went to the net better. We shot the puck from the middle of the ice. Little things like that."
Dunn's goal total has ballooned to 11, giving the Blues three defensemen with double-digit goals for the first time in franchise history. The 22-year-old had an assist in St. Louis' 4-1 victory against Buffalo on Dec. 27.
Ryan O'Reilly, who scored the clinching goal in that contest, is set to make his return to KeyBank Center. He was traded from Buffalo to St. Louis on July 1. The 28-year-old, however, is unsure of the reception that he will receive after spending three seasons with the Sabres.
"I have no idea," O'Reilly told the Buffalo News. "I do know it will be nice to have a lot of family coming down from Toronto and a lot of friends I don't normally get to see. But I don't really know what to expect.
"Being traded before helps a lot. It will be weird to be in that building, but at the end of the day, it's two points we need, so I have to focus on that."
Blues winger David Perron returned Saturday from a 24-game absence caused to a concussion to fluster his former team with an assist on Dunn's first-period goal. Perron extended his personal scoring streak to 14 games (six goals, 11 assists). That streak began with a pair of two-point performances, including his two-assist effort versus the Sabres.
St. Louis goalie Jake Allen, who likely will get the nod on Sunday, improved his career mark to 6-1-0 versus Buffalo with a 1.40 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage after turning aside 30 shots in the first encounter this season.
Goalie Carter Hutton, who spent the previous two seasons with the Blues, likely will supply the opposition for Buffalo. The 33-year-old has just one win in his past 11 appearances overall, but fellow goaltender Linus Ullmark also has struggled mightily of late.
Ullmark permitted four goals -- including a sharp-angle shot from Carolina captain Justin Williams -- on Saturday in the Sabres' 4-2 setback to the Hurricanes.
"Not happy with how I've been playing lately," Ullmark said. "The boys are trying their best to create scoring opportunities, and I let the guys down (on Saturday)."
The Sabres entered play Saturday having been shut out in a franchise-high-tying three consecutive games before former Carolina forward Jeff Skinner ended his current team's scoring drought at 199 minutes, 58 seconds. Skinner snapped a 13-game goal drought and matched his career high of 37 set in 2016-17 with Carolina.
Skinner, 26, has nine goals and 12 points in 13 career meetings with the Blues.
--Field Level MediaHome