Troy Terry Has Goal, 2 Assists and Gibson Makes 34 Saves in Ducks’ 4–3 Win Over Sabres

Troy Terry Has Goal, 2 Assists and Gibson Makes 34 Saves in Ducks’ 4–3 Win Over Sabres
Anaheim Ducks right wing Frank Vatrano (77) celebrates his goal with center Mason McTavish (23) during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo, N.Y., on Feb. 19, 2024. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP Photo)
The Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y.—Long out of the playoff picture, the Anaheim Ducks achieved one of the more modest goals coach Greg Cronin laid out for his team following a 4–3 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, Feb. 19.

How’s 20 wins sound?

“It’s huge,” the first-year coach said of the Ducks (20–33–2), who are 14th in the Western Conference. “Clearly we’re out of the playoff picture. We made some goals internally that would reflect some progress for the group. And today was a big one going in that direction.”

Troy Terry scored the go-ahead goal with 64 seconds left in the second period and had two assists, and the Ducks split their four-game road trip while rebounding from a 9–2 loss at Toronto on Saturday.

Frank Vatrano scored twice to increase his season total to a career-best 26 goals, and Mason McTavish added three assists in an outing where the Ducks’ top scoring line combined for three second-period goals.

Adam Henrique also scored and John Gibson stopped 34 shots two days after giving up five goals on 14 shots in a relief stint against Toronto.

Gibson was at his best in preserving the one-goal lead with a 10-save third period.

With 8:19 left, the goalie reached out across the crease to snare Tage Thompson’s attempt to convert Jeff Skinner’s setup into the open right side. With a minute left, Gibson got his blocker up to stop Rasmus Dahlin’s shot from the slot, and followed up to kick out his left pad to prevent Dahlin from converting the rebound.

“He really is the backbone of our team,” Terry said of Gibson. “Some games you almost take it for granted and we hang him out to dry. It’s our job to give him as much support as we can. And, some of the saves he made today were just outrageous.”

For Buffalo, it might be time for the Sabres to start following the Ducks’ lead in shortening their expectations with the team in jeopardy of extending its NHL-record postseason drought to a 13th season.

Buffalo (24–27–4) continues to struggle at home—1–5 in its past six—and remains inconsistent overall. The Sabres failed to carry over the momentum of a come-from-behind 3–2 overtime win at Minnesota on Saturday by dropping to 4–4 in their past eight and 10-9 in their past 19.

Thompson, Jordan Greenway and Zach Benson scored for Buffalo, while Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen finished with 11 saves.

“Just too many mistakes, honestly,” Sabres captain Kyle Okposo said of an outing the Sabres dominated most every statistic except the final score. “We gave up 15 shots, but it just seemed like we just kind of gave them everything that they had.”

The Ducks rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits with Vatrano scoring twice in 2 1/2 minutes to put Anaheim up 3–2 with 5:26 remaining in the second period.

After Benson tied the game by deflecting in Henri Jokiharju’s shot from the left point with 4:40 left in the second, Terry took advantage of a Sabres defensive breakdown to score the go-ahead goal.

McTavish drove up the left boards and, while falling, shoveled a pass to Terry parked to the left of the net. Terry avoided defender Connor Clifton and then skated to the front where his shot trickled in behind Luukkonen.

By John Wawrow