Thomas, Bozak lead Blues to 5-1 win over Sabres
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Robert Thomas is proving to be a fast learner.
Thomas and Tyler Bozak each had a goal and two assists, and the St. Louis Blues beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-1 on Thursday night.
Alexander Steen had two goals and an assist and David Perron also scored for the Blues, who won their eighth straight against the Sabres on home ice. Jordan Binnington made 18 saves, running his record to 21-7-4.
The 20-year-old Thomas has found chemistry playing on a line with veterans Bozak and Steen. The line combined for nine points against the Sabres.
“They always make the right play,” Thomas said. “Such smart players. It makes it easy on me. I can try a couple of things and just kind of learn from them.”
Thomas’ three points equaled a career high. He has eight points in his last seven games.
“He’s a kid who will keep getting better,” Bozak said. “It’s fun to be a part of, fun to watch. I’ve been lucky in my career to play with a lot of young really good players and see them grow and he’s just on the same path like a lot of those guys.”
Jack Eichel scored and Linus Ullmark made 26 saves for the Sabres, who won their previous two games.
“Everybody needs to get hungrier to shoot on net,” Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. “I think we still give up too many opportunities, our D and our forwards, to try to make a play, and the other thing will be to get bodies there.”
Thomas gave the Blues a 1-0 lead at the 4:47 mark of the first period when he squeezed a wrist shot from the right circle through traffic. Steen got an assist, his 300th with the Blues.
“We just keep coming on teams,” Thomas said. “When we’re playing the right way it just seems like an endless forecheck and endless pressure and when we do that we’re a tough team to beat.”
Bozak made it 2-0 with 6:31 left in the first off a one-timer set up by Thomas, who made a nifty move behind the net to start the sequence. Niko Mikkola also got an assist for his first NHL point.
Eichel got the Sabres on the board at 4:22 of the second period. It was his 27th goal of the season and fourth in his last four games against St. Louis.
“We just didn’t penetrate,” Eichel said. “I don’t think we made good decisions with the puck. We turned it over too much and that’s it.”
Perron’s power-play goal midway through the second restored the Blues’ two-goal lead, 3-1. Perron has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in his last 11 games, and the St. Louis power play has at least one goal in seven of its last nine games.
The Blues appeared to take a 4-1 lead late in the second on a goal by Jaden Schwartz, but after a Sabres challenge it was waived off when Jordan Kyrou was ruled offside.
Steen did make it 4-1 at 5:36 of the third period, burying Thomas’ feed into an open net after a wild scramble. It was his first goal of the season.
“I think when we can help him create a little bit more space and he’s been able to hang onto the puck like that, I think the last three games or so he’s been incredible,” Steen said of Thomas. “He’s very easy to play with.”
Steen added an empty-netter with 4:42 left.
“I thought we were pretty good defensively all-around,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “I thought that we had urgency in the D zone and pressuring and not giving them time. We talked about not giving this team time and space with the puck, and I thought we did a good job of it.”
NOTES: The Blues won their seventh straight home game, tying Dallas for the longest such streak in the NHL this season. … RW Michael Frolik made his Sabres debut. Frolik was acquired in a trade with Calgary on Jan. 2. … The Blues are 20-0-5 when scoring first this season and are the only team in the league without a regulation loss in that scenario. … The Sabres placed forward Victor Olofsson (lower body) on injured reserve Wednesday. Olofsson, who leads NHL rookies with 35 points, is expected to miss five to six weeks.
Sabres: Host the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
Blues: Host the New York Rangers on Saturday.
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