Silfverberg scores twice as Ducks beat Sabres to halt three-game skid
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Jakob Silfverberg scored two goals, defenseman Olen Zellweger had an assist in his NHL debut and the Anaheim Ducks snapped their three-game skid with a 4-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
Sam Carrick scored a power-play goal and John Gibson made 28 saves for the Ducks, who took a 3-0 lead deep into the third period before holding on to win for only the fourth time in 16 games. Anaheim also ended a six-game slide at home since December.
“It's been a struggle here at home as of late,” Silfverberg said. “The crowd has been great in the drought we've had, so it's nice to reward them.”
The 20-year-old Zellweger had a promising debut for the Ducks, who are counting on the second-round draft pick to fill a key role on their blue line in future seasons. Zellweger was the CHL’s Defenseman of the Year last season in his final junior campaign, and the Calgary native has eight goals and 17 assists this year in his pro debut with Anaheim’s top affiliate in San Diego, earning an AHL All-Star selection.
“It was awesome to get the win,” Zellweger said. “I was really excited there in the first few shifts. They were really good out there. ... I think the pace is a little faster. There’s a little less time out there with the puck on your stick. Guys make a lot of high-skill plays, and they’re looking to hit you when you join the rush as a defenseman.”
Adam Henrique finally iced the victory with an empty-net goal with 1:09 left. Moments later, the teams combined for 56 penalty minutes and five misconducts in a huge scrum, followed by another scrap after the final whistle.
“We were skating, and I thought we did a lot of the right things as far as managing the puck,” Anaheim coach Greg Cronin said. “They're offensively a very talented team. ... They're a good team. They obviously were upset about the way they played, and they came at us hard.”
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 32 shots for Buffalo, but his teammates couldn’t beat Gibson until they scored twice late with Luukkonen pulled for an extra attacker.
“When we gave up the second goal, the heads went down, the confidence went down," Buffalo coach Don Granato said. “That can’t happen. You've got to go through it. Again, this is a tough league, I told you there are no easy games. I believe they will fight through this, and I believe they have it within their capacity.”
While the Sabres looked sluggish and shaky in their first game after traveling to the West Coast, the Ducks looked energized despite playing their third game in four days.
Silfverberg put the Ducks ahead less than six minutes in when he redirected Radko Gudas' slap shot for only the third goal of his 11th season with Anaheim. Silfverberg, who has four career 20-goal seasons, has two goals in his last five games after scoring once in his first 41 this season.
After Leo Carlsson drew a penalty, Carrick scored on a mid-air swat of a rebound from a shot by Zellweger in the second period. Silfverberg scored another goal 53 seconds later on a setup from Mason McTavish, matching his goal total from his previous 64 games with his first two-goal performance since October 2022.
“It’s probably the worst period we’ve played all year, to be honest with you,” Okposo said. “It was awful. It was just not good enough. Just giving up chance after chance on the wrong side of the puck. It was bad.”
Greenway broke up Gibson's bid for his 25th career shutout while Buffalo played with a 6-on-4 advantage. Okposo added his first goal since Dec. 21, again with Luukkonen pulled.
Ducks assistant coaches Craig Johnson and Brent Thompson both game-planned for the first time against their sons, Sabres rookie defenseman Ryan Johnson and center Tage Thompson. Ryan Johnson was born and raised in Orange County while his father played for the Los Angeles Kings, and he played for the Junior Ducks as a teenager.
Sabres: At Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Ducks: At Dallas on Thursday.
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