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Dylan Cozens scores two short-handed goals as Sabres beat Golden Knights 7-2

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Now that the Sabres are on a roll, Jeff Skinner refuses to believe it’s too late for Buffalo to make a late-season playoff push.

“No, I’m not worried,” Skinner said after scoring his 20th of the season in helping the Sabres win their fifth in six outings with a 7-2 rout of the slumping Vegas Golden Knights 7-2 on Saturday night.

“What are you going to do, worry about the past?" said Skinner, who added two assists and reached the 20-goal mark for the 10th time in his 14 seasons. "For us, we keep moving forward. We got another game (Sunday night). And we try and keep the good things in our game going.”

Dylan Cozens capped Buffalo’s five-goal surge by scoring his second short-handed goal of the game with 2:48 left. Zemgus Girgensons scored the go-ahead goal with 5:14 left in the second period as the Sabres rallied after squandering a 2-0 lead.

Casey Mittelstadt and defenseman Owen Power each had a goal and two assists, and Kyle Okposo also scored for Buffalo. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 22 shots to improve to 7-2 in his past nine starts.

The Sabres won consecutive home games for just the second time this season, and improved to 29-28-4, marking the first time since Nov. 10 the team had more wins than regulation losses.

Their early season inconsistencies, however, leave the Sabres still sitting 10 points out of contention and in jeopardy of extending their NHL record playoff drought to a 13th consecutive season.

Vegas, coming off a 5-4 loss at Boston on Thursday night, dropped to 2-6-1 in its past nine.

The Golden Knights are playing without Jack Eichel, Mark Stone and William Carrier. Eichel, who missed his 19th game, has resumed skating since having knee surgery and expected to return within the next two games.

While the injuries are a concern, Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy noted scoring hasn’t been an issue with his team combining for 15 goals in going 1-2-1 in its past four games.

“We’re just making poor plays with the puck executing. How do we rebound? We need the healthy group of our lineup, which is our D corps that is the strength of our team, to play better,” Cassidy said. “We’ll piece together some forward lines hopefully to get enough offense but we’ve got to stay in the game and be better back there.”

Brendan Brisson and William Karlsson scored for Vegas. Logan Thompson finished with 28 saves, and has gone 1-3-1 in his past five while giving up a combined 18 goals.

After Brisson and Karlsson scored 2:42 apart early in the second period, Girgensons was set up by teammate Eric Robinson forcing Alec Martinez to cough up the puck along the right boards. Robinson immediately fed Girgensons, who drove toward the net, sidestepped Alex Pietrangelo, and snapped a shot inside the left post.

Cozens was impressed by how the Sabres didn't let up once Vegas tied the game.

“We blew that lead quick and we knew that we wanted to get that back," Cozens said. “We had a few good shifts there of just pressure and keeping them hemmed in and the crowd got into it and gave us that boost, and we just kept it rolling from there.”

Cozens became the seventh Buffalo player to score two short-handed goals in the same game, and first since defenseman Brandon Montour did so in a 6-1 win over Philadelphia on March 31, 2021.

UP NEXT

Golden Knights: At Columbus on Monday night to close a four-game trip.

Sabres: Host Winnipeg on Sunday night.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

John Wawrow, The Associated Press