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Rasmus Darin sets NHL record, Sabers win over Flames

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CALGARY – Rasmus Darling raised his arms in congratulations, hugged Matthias Samuelsson and pointed his right index finger at rookie JJ Pieterka, who made a pass to help complete a historic moment on Thursday night. .

Darling, now in his fifth season in the NHL, is both a vocal leader and an elite playmaker, becoming the first defenseman in NHL history to start a season with goals in four straight games.

“I don’t think you’ll be surprised by Darling’s performance,” manager Don Granato said at the Scotiabank Saddledome after the game.

In a game in which the Sabers’ evolution into a dangerous offensive team was fully demonstrated against one of the NHL’s best teams, it was fitting that Darling was at the center of the 6-3 victory over the previously undefeated Flames. was. After all, no player has made a bigger leap under Granert than the first overall draft pick of 2018.

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Darling’s magic, with his pack, reliable defense, and continued growth as a leader, was the catalyst for the Sabers’ comeback in the second half of the spring season. And he got even better through his four games, posting his team-best 24:40 on ice, scoring four goals and his five points. The 22-year-old didn’t even hit this latest milestone by quickly giving credit to his teammates and pointing out that it’s still far from complete.

“It’s crazy,” Darling said with a smile.

Darling wasn’t the only Saber to showcase his talents in the pack.

Alex Touch scored his first career hat-trick for Buffalo (3-1), while Dylan Cozens and Casey Mittelstadt added goals each to help the Sabers recover from a 1-0 deficit and a ferocious rally by the Flames. Stopped (3-1). ). The Sabers pass clinic against the Flames also led to multi-assist efforts by Vinnie Hinostroza, Jacob Bryson and Owen Power. The latter made the first multi-point game of his NHL career.

However, darling is the engine. He developed into a hard worker and well-rounded defensive scout predicted he would lead the draft where he was the top prospect of consensus. It’s tailored to the system and benefits creative players like those on the Sabers roster.

With Henri Jokiharu injured and the Sabers short-handed at the blue line, Granert turned to a defense force with an average age of 22.4. Group leader Darling finished in his team-best 25:15 on ice, blocking five shots.

“He’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever played with, and I doubt he’s as good as he can be,” Tuch said.

The game got off to a rocky start for Buffalo as the Sabers fell behind 1-0 with an Andrew Manjapane goal at 4:21 of the first period.

Cozens scored first when he stabbed the puck over the goal line after a backhand shot strayed off Markstrom’s right leg pad. Darling then made history again when he received his pass centered from Pieterka and offensively scored another goal deep in his zone to give him a 2–1 lead.

“I think his confidence is there, he’s reading the right things and jumping at the right time,” added Mittelstadt. “He’s just a good player. I think he’s a simple thing.”

Darling responded with an ambitious plan when informed by a Sabers spokesperson in Edmonton on Tuesday that they had opened the season with a league-record three-game scoring streak. He was aiming for his fourth consecutive victory. This made him only the second defenseman in franchise history to complete his four-game scoring streak, following former coach Phil Houseley, who achieved the feat in 1988.

Darling snatched an assist off the scoresheet in the second period, and a replay review showed Tage Thompson’s powerplay shot from the left circle hit the crossbar, giving the Sabers a 5-1 advantage. rice field.

Slowly, the Flames narrowed their lead, with Buffalo hitting the post five times, aided by an accidental bounce. The referee accidentally kicked the puck in front of the Sabers’ net, leading to Trevor’s Lewis goal with 1.6 seconds remaining in the second period, making it 4-2.

Flames defenseman Nikita Zadrov also scored just 1:09 into the third period, cutting the Sabers’ lead to one goal. As Calgary equalized, Touch scored a power-play goal, dragging the puck past the defense and landing his shot on the wrist, with 14:19 left in regulation to give him a 5-3 lead. rice field.

Eric Comrie was tall again in the third period, limiting second-chance opportunities and a calming effect on the young defense. He finished with 40 saves, becoming the first goaltender in Sabers history to record 40 save wins in consecutive games. Tuff sealed the result with an empty net goal to help Buffalo win over a pair of playoff teams.

“It doesn’t matter who you play against,” Touch said. “If they’re the toughest team in the league and they’re very highly skilled, we can play anyone.”

Other observations from the game are:

The Sabers preferred to use their proficient goal-scoring forwards on penalty kills, with Heinostrosa flying out to Mittelstadt for a successful breakaway and ending with a shorthanded goal for the highlight reel, 3-1 Sabers at 13:10. led the first period. Mittelstadt used his speed to reach the puck in his zone in neutral and created enough separation to unleash his shot with the backhand that scored the first goal of the season off the crossbar. He had his three shots on goal and continued to play strongly in 2021-22 after missing most of his season with injury.

“He’s my brother,” Darling said of Mittelstadt. “We spent three years in a room together, so I knew what he was going through last season, so I’m very happy with him. He’s back and playing great. I’m here.

Hinostroza assisted on all three goals in Buffalo’s first period, giving him four since making his season debut in Edmonton on Tuesday. You got 4 points.

It may not go unnoticed, but Bryson made the play that led to Cozens’ first goal for the Sabers. Bryson carried the puck to the left hash mark near the slot, drawing in two Calgary defenders, creating space for Cozen in front and sending a perfect pass into the slot to create a scoring opportunity. Meanwhile, Cozens had his team-high six shots on goal and he won the matchup 62% of the time.

Jokiharju sat motionless on the ice for a while until he slowly grabbed his face. Buffalo’s he’s 1 per game he’s 20 minutes defense. Play stopped at :59. He needed help getting to the bench and he didn’t return to the game.

The Sabers recalled defenseman Lawrence Piruto from Rochester on Friday, Jokiharju’s condition was uncertain, and Ilya Ljubuschkin was a daily occurrence. Casey Fitzgerald joined Ljubuschkin’s lineup on Thursday.

The Sabers will continue their road trip in Vancouver on Saturday with a game against the Canucks at 10pm.