VANCOUVER — Rasmus Dahlin scored for a fifth straight game and also had an assist for the Buffalo Sabres, who spoiled the Vancouver Canucks home opener with a 5-1 win at Rogers Arena on Saturday.
Victor Olofsson had two goals and an assist, Alex Tuch and Zemgus Girgensons scored, and Craig Anderson made 29 saves for the Sabres (4-1-0), who have won the first three games of a four-game road trip that will conclude at the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday.
“I think it starts from hard work, and we really deserve this confidence we have right now,” Dahlin said. “We’re playing away games, but we’re playing them really, really good and we’re really starting to find our game. So yeah, our confidence level is high right now.”
Conor Garland scored, and Thatcher Demko made 22 saves for the Canucks (0-4-2), who remain the NHL’s only team without a win and failed for the sixth straight time to get coach Bruce Boudreau his 600th NHL victory.
“My job is to help us find a way out of this,” Boudreau said. “So I’ll be doing whatever I can to see what I can do to get this thing turned around. Their job should be, individually, ‘What can I do to turn this thing around?’ That’s what I’d feel if they booed us off the ice like this. I would hope our pride kicks in.”
Dahlin put Buffalo ahead 1-0 at 5:35 of the first period with a point shot that deflected past a screened Demko on the power play. Dahlin was already the first defenseman in NHL history to score in the first four games of a season and is now the first defenseman in Sabres history to score a goal in five straight games.
“I’m not trying to think about it,” Dahlin said. “I was into [the defensive] zone for 80 percent of this game, but when situations happen out there, I try to score, so it feels good when the puck goes in.”
Dahlin may downplay his scoring streak, but it has left a strong impression on the rest of the Sabres.
“He’s making plays that kind of reminds me of when Erik Karlsson was at the top of his game,” Anderson said. “He was doing things with the puck that you just wouldn’t expect him to do because he had that confidence, and [Dahlin] is there in his own game. I’m not comparing him to Erik, but I’m comparing him to that confidence, that swagger with the puck that he has to be able to make those plays. He’s just playing loose and letting his skill and ability take over right now.”
Tuch, who screened Demko on Dahlin’s goal, made it 2-0 at 15:18. Jeff Skinner forced a turnover in the slot that left Tuch behind the Vancouver defense for a spinning shot under the blocker of Demko.
Tuch has scored in four straight games, including a hat trick in a 6-3 win at the Calgary Flames on Thursday, tying the longest streak of his NHL career.
Garland cut it to 2-1 at 13:27 of the second period with a one-timer from the left hash marks on a power play, but the Sabres extended their lead early in the third.
Olofsson finished off a 2-on-1 by one-timing a cross-ice pass from Casey Mittelstadt to make it 3-1 at 1:54. The goal came 26 seconds after Sabres forward Vinnie Hinostroza hit both posts on a wrist shot from the slot, which was called a goal before a video review showed the puck didn’t cross the goal line.
“It was nice to get that quick goal right away and kill momentum for them,” Olofsson said. “We took over after that.”
Gurgensons shot into an empty net at 16:31 to make it 4-1, and Olofsson beat a sprawling Demko off a cross-crease pass from Dahlin at 17:21 for the 5-1 final.
“His skill is just taking over,” Olofsson said of Dahlin. “The last goal was a disgusting play by him, and he’s just taking it to another level this year.”
Vancouver, which had surrendered a lead in its first five games, has been outscored 13-1 in the third period this season.
“Pretty frustrating,” forward J.T. Miller said. “We left [Demko] out to dry there in the last 10 minutes. We had a chance to win going into the third. Up until the third period, I thought we were playing in a pretty good game. To come out and play a third like that given our situation was tough to swallow.”
NOTES: Buffalo defenseman Mattias Samuelsson, who was playing on the top pairing with Dahlin, left with 2:57 remaining in the second period after falling awkwardly in the corner checking Canucks forward Curtis Lazar. Samuelsson was clutching his right knee as he lay on the ice before being helped off and limping to the locker room, but Buffalo coach Don Granato said the early word was positive. “We won’t know more obviously until tomorrow, but I was holding my breath like everyone else and you’re wondering what type of news you’re going to get, so much happier after I heard where he’s at,” Granato said. … Vancouver’s top defenseman, Quinn Hughes, was a late scratch and is day to day with a lower-body injury. … Canucks defenseman Jack Rathbone was minus-3 in 17:55 in his season debut. … Mittelstadt had two assists in his 200th NHL game. … Sabres defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin had three hits and blocked three shots in 20:37 after missing one game with an undisclosed injury. … Vancouver defenseman Noah Juulsen played 11:18 after being recalled from Abbotsford of the American Hockey League on Saturday.