Ducks have just enough scoring to beat the Buffalo Sabres, 1-0

Ducks have just enough scoring to beat the Buffalo Sabres, 1-0
Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg lunges for a loose puck between Sabres defenseman Mark Pysyk and forward Matt Moulson during a game on Feb. 24. (Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Back in the grim days of October, Sami Vatanen and Frederik Andersen were unfortunate examples of the Ducks' struggles.

The Ducks scored one goal in the first four games of the season, courtesy of defenseman Vatanen. Andersen was a profound case of a goalie with literally no scoring support.


Both brought the Ducks' resurrection full circle Wednesday.

Vatanen scored in the second period and Andersen made it stand with his first shutout this season in a 1-0 win against Buffalo at the Honda Center that updated one of the NHL's best second-half pushes.

The Ducks' sixth straight win tied a season high. They are 13-1-1 in their past 15 games and 20-4-2 since Christmas. The low-scoring win contrasted a run of five or more goals scored in each of their previous four games.

"In a perfect world, you want to win [by scoring lot of goals]," Andersen said. "The way we defended today was good. We didn't really give too much to them. You've got to take the wins any way you can, but preferably you want to play solid defensively with a good forecheck.… It's the perfect recipe."

Andersen was shaken up late on a toe save on Marcus Foligno but finished with 26 saves.

It was Andersen's turn in goal, understandable given that he improved to 4-0-0 against Buffalo. His signature save was a left-pad stop on Justin Bailey on a rush late in the second period.

"He got a good shot away," Andersen said. "I didn't get all of it, but I was lucky enough to get over for the rebound and get a piece of that too."

The Ducks got a scare when defenseman Hampus Lindholm left the game late in the first period. Buffalo's Evander Kane delivered an awkward skate-on-skate hit near the boards and Lindholm appeared to hurt his leg. He went to the dressing room gingerly but returned to start the second period.

Vatanen then added to the relief with a power-play goal, on a wrist shot through a thicket of players. It was his third goal in five games.

That kind of production from the blue line is an integral part of the Ducks' successful second half. They've gotten eight goals from defensemen in the past five games and 17 from them since Christmas.

Vatanen also contributed to a hot power play that is on a 13-for-49 tear over the last 13 games.

"It's been working lately," Vatanen said. "Everybody knows what we're doing. We're moving the puck fast and shooting it. When you start to play simple, then after that, the … plays come."

The Ducks even corrected a porous penalty-killing unit that had allowed 11 goals in 10 games.

Staying out of the penalty box was their top priority in addressing that. They committed two penalties in the first 28 minutes of the game and were outstanding in killing both.


Buffalo got a power play three seconds into the third period on Jakob Silfverberg's high-sticking penalty on the faceoff and another in the final minutes, but the Ducks squashed both.

Follow Curtis Zupke on Twitter @CurtisZupke