OTTAWA, Ontario (AP)Jacob Lucchini’s first NHL goal was the eventual winner as the Ottawa Senators beat Buffalo 3-1 Sunday night and snapped the Sabres’ six-game winning streak.
”It’s so hard to put into words, honestly,” said Lucchini, a 27-year-old center playing his fifth NHL game. ”You just dream about it and it was so special and, obviously, the crowd with so many people. It was such an exciting game, so to have a positive impact like that was really, you know, important for me and good for our team.”
Lucchini was able to share the special moment with his mother, Sandy, who happened to be in town for the game.
The road to the NHL has been a long one for the native of Trail, British Columbia, and he hasn’t taken anything for granted.
While the goal was special for Lucchini, it was clear his teammates were just as excited as they raced to swarm him.
”It was unreal,” Senators captain Brady Tkachuk said. ”It’s always special, not only for (Lucchini), but for everybody to be a part of a first NHL goal and see a dream come true. It’s amazing.”
Tim Stutzle scored twice for the Senators and Anton Forsberg, making his first start since Dec. 18, finished with 33 saves.
”I felt good out there. I didn’t feel like I haven’t played for a while, which is great,” Forsberg said.
As impressive as Stutzle has been offensively, the 20-year-old is being counted on defensively.
Stutzle was on the ice when the Sabres had a two-man advantage and for the final minutes of the game, when he managed to score an empty-net goal for his second.
”I just try to play my best and I try to play better defensively every day, and I think D.J. (Smith) trusts me in every situation so that’s really great to see,” Stutzle said.
Zemgus Girgensons scored for the Sabres. Craig Anderson stopped 33 shots.
Through their six-game run, the Sabres had scored 28 goals. This game marked the first in which they scored less than three.
”We’re used to scoring goals, and when that doesn’t happen, everyone gets, you know, `Oh my goodness, we didn’t score.’ But that’s going to happen,” Anderson said.
”You’re going to run into some bad luck or a hot goalie in some way, shape or form throughout the year. We can’t dwell on it. You just have to turn the page and look forward to the next one.”
Trailing 2-1 to start the third the Sabres pressed for the equalizer, but Forsberg was up to the challenge. Tage Thompson had a great chance at the halfway mark of the period, but his shot hit the post.
The Sabres took advantage of a bad line change when Mattias Samuelsson made a long pass to Girgensons, sending him in alone. He beat Forsberg with a wrist shot to tie the game at 1.
Midway through the period, Lucchini jumped on a loose puck in front and scored his first on a power play to make it 2-1.
In the opening minute of the game, Stutzle looked to pass to Tkachuk, but the puck bounced back in his direction and he quickly beat Anderson just 47 seconds in.
The Sabres finished the first with a two-man advantage, but were unable to capitalize and trailed 1-0.
”The 5-on-3 depicted everything,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. ”We complicated what should have been really simple. We had time and space. We just couldn’t even make a simple play. Those are unfortunate signs of fatigue.”
Drake Batherson needed one point to tie Marian Hossa for third-longest point streak in Senators history. His 12-game point run was the second-longest current streak in the league. But that came to an end Sunday. Edmonton’s Connor McDavid leads the league with 17 games.
NOTES: The Senators remain without defensemen Erik Brannstrom and Nikita Zaitsev. Buffalo’s Alex Tuch has 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) in his last 19 games.
Buffalo: At Washington Capitals on Tuesday.
Ottawa: Host Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
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