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Pettersson produces 3 points as Canucks beat Buffalo Sabres 3-2

Vancouver hosts the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday
Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson (40) celebrates his goal against the Buffalo Sabres during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Elias Pettersson scored twice and notched an assist Tuesday as his Vancouver Canucks edged the visiting Buffalo Sabres 3-2.

Conor Garland added a goal, while Quinn Hughes and J.T. Miller each registered a pair of helpers for the Canucks (43-18-8).

Rasmus Dahlin replied twice for the Sabres (33-32-5), who were coming off a 6-2 thrashing of the Kraken in Seattle on Monday.

Vancouver netminder Casey DeSmith made 16 saves in his first victory since starter Thatcher Demko was sidelined by injury last week.

Making his first NHL start since Jan. 24, Buffalo netminder Devon Levi stopped 31 of 33 shots. He was recalled from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League on Saturday.

The result left Vancouver atop the Western Conference standings, one point ahead of the Winnipeg Jets and Colorado Avalanche.

Buffalo fell to five points back of the Detroit Red Wings, who hold the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

The visitors refused to go quietly Tuesday, with Dahlin scoring his second of the night from the point with 20.7 seconds left on the game clock.

The Sabres pulled Levi with two minutes and 30 seconds to go but couldn’t beat DeSmith to force overtime.

Instead, Pettersson collected the puck from Miller in Vancouver territory and sprinted up the ice, putting an easy shot into the empty net to seal the score at 3-1.

Dahlin cut the visitors’ deficit to 2-1 during a stretch of four-on-four play after Vancouver’s Tyler Myers and Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner were both sent to the box for slashing midway through the third period.

Dahlin wove his way past a pair of Canucks, then fired a backhanded shot past DeSmith for his 16th goal of the season at the 9:53 mark.

The Canucks went up 2-0 with a power-play goal midway through the second after Owen Power was called for hooking.

Levi stopped a blast from J.T. Miller and the rebound bounced out to Pettersson in front of the net. The star centre backhanded the puck up and over the Buffalo netminder at the 13:48 mark. The goal was Pettersson’s 32nd of the season, but just his fourth since the all-star break.

Moments earlier, Levi stymied Ilya Mikheyev with a highlight-reel save.

With teammate Nikita Zadorov in the box for tripping, Pettersson created a short-handed two-on-one going the other way, then sliced a pass to Mikheyev in the slot. The Russian winger tried to wrap a shot around Levi but the goalie made a diving stop.

Power caught Mikheyev from behind on the play and was called for holding.

The Canucks were 1-for-4 with the man advantage Tuesday while the Sabres failed to score on four power plays.

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Vancouver opened the scoring 4:06 into the game with a goal that needed a second look.

Hughes fired a shot on net and while Levi was able to get a piece of it, the puck got stuck between his skate and the post. Garland poked it in for his 14th tally of the season.

Buffalo challenged for goaltender interference, but a review determined the goal would stand and the Canucks officially took a 1-0 lead.


Vancouver took one-goal wins over the Sabres twice this season. The Canucks also collected a 1-0 decision in Buffalo on Jan. 13.


The Sabres have not fared well in the second half of back-to-back games this season, going 3-8-0 and failing to earn a sweep in any time they’ve played two games in two nights.


Zach Benson, who hails from Chilliwack, B.C., played his first NHL game in Vancouver, with dozens of friends and family members in the stands. Buffalo selected the 18-year-old left-winger 13th overall in last year’s draft and he’s registered nine goals and 14 assists through the first 59 games of his rookie campaign.


Canucks: Host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

Sabres: Visit Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2024.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press