Sam Lafferty, Thatcher Demko help Canucks blank Sabres

Sam Lafferty scored the only goal of the afternoon as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Buffalo Sabres 1-0 in a stingy Saturday matchup, extending their win streak to five games.

After a scoreless and evenly fought first period, the Canucks found their breakthrough at the 2:05 mark of the middle frame, as Lafferty parked himself in front of the Sabres’ net, and finished a second effort shot, after an initial floated wrist shot from defenceman Nikita Zadorov.

While Lafferty grazed goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s mask before forcing the puck over the goal line, the goal stood. Yet, Buffalo head coach Dom Granato appeared to consider a second coach’s challenge after his previous effort reversed a Canucks goal from Brock Boeser, only for review to show JT Miller was offside.

Thatcher Demko made 25 saves for the Canucks, who matched their season-best win streak and captured their 15th victory away from home. Luukkonen finished the afternoon with 23 saves.

Lafferty’s goal made him the eighth Canucks player to reach the 10-goal mark in the 2023-24 season.

In the second period, Buffalo dropped down to three defensemen, with Mattias Samuelsson, Rasmus Dahlin, and Erik Johnson all leaving the game to receive treatment in the locker room. Veteran forward Zemgus Girgensons dropped back to defense before Dahlin and Johnson returned. Samuelsson did not return, having sustained an elbow to the face from Filip Hronek.

Tempers flared in the second and third periods after Dahlin sustained several heavy hits from Vancouver’s forecheck, sparking fisticuffs between Johnson and Miller and several post-whistle scrums, resulting in 28 combined penalty minutes.

While Buffalo pressured throughout the third period, they failed to beat Demko. With the net empty for an extra attacker, John-Jason Peterka fired a clear slapshot from the slot into Demko’s chest but was unable to tie the game.

Vancouver failed to score on two power play opportunities, while Buffalo was held scoreless on their three chances with a man advantage.

The shutout marked Demkos’s seventh of his NHL career and fourth of the season.