BUFFALO, N.Y. — Andre Burakovsky had a goal and three assists for a career-best four points in the Colorado Avalanche’s 6-1 win over the spiraling Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
Samuel Girard sparked the rout with the opening goal by chasing down a loose puck that no one, including Sabres goalie Carter Hutton, could spot in a game the Avalanche scored six times on their first 14 shots.
Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and two assists, while Nikita Zadorov, Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen also scored. Burakovsky’s goal was his 17th to match a career high, and he extended his point streak to five games during which he’s combined for four goals and seven assists.
Philipp Grubauer stopped 23 shots in helping Colorado improve to 4-1-2 in its past seven.
Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart deflected in Jake McCabe’s point shot to briefly cut Colorado’s lead to 2-1 in the final second of the first period.
Hutton was chased after allowing five goals on 13 shots. He was replaced by rookie Jonas Johansson, who finished with 13 saves after allowing a goal on the first shot he faced in his NHL debut.
The Sabres inexplicably unraveled after holding a 7-1 edge in shots through the first 11 minutes, and following a goal in which everyone but Girard lost sight of the puck 13:18 in.
The play began with Ryan Graves’ shot from the left circle hitting the skate of Buffalo defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen in front and deflecting to the right of the net. With Hutton and everyone else focusing their attention on Ristolainen battling with two Colorado players to the left of the net, Girard saw the puck squirt out of the right corner.
Sabres forward Jeff Skinner was in the high slot attempting to point out where the puck went when Girard turned and scored from a bad angle just before Hutton could get across.
Burakovsky scored 45 seconds later, and the Avalanche sealed the win by scoring four times on 10 shots in the second period.
The clouds of frustration continued gathering over the Sabres, who have lost four of five and are already in jeopardy of extending the NHL’s longest active playoff drought to a ninth season.
During his weekly appearance on the Sabres flagship station, WGR-Radio, before the game, general manager Jason Botterill acknowledged that owners Terry and Kim Pegula are unhappy with the team’s inconsistencies.
“To put it bluntly, my conversations with Terry and Kim, they’re frustrated with the results,” he said. “They want better results.”
Botterill was specifically referring to the Sabres coming out of their 10-day break and losing consecutive games to Ottawa and Montreal. The losses led to Sabres fans going to social media and radio in criticizing Botterill and the owners.
“You can understand our fans’ frustration,” Botterill said. “Our organization is frustrated by that.”
Colorado’s Cale Makar set a franchise record for rookie defencemen with an assist on Nichushkin’s goal that put the Avalanche up 5-1 midway through the second period. It was Makar’s 38th point, one more than Bruce Bell had with the then-Quebec Nordiques in 1984-85.
The Sabres were without D Rasmus Dahlin (upper body) and forwards Johan Larsson (lower body) and Curtis Lazar (illness), who are listed day to day. … Buffalo recalled F Rasmus Asplund from AHL Rochester. … Makar made his first return to Buffalo since completing his sophomore college season with UMass’ 3-0 loss to Minnesota Duluth in the Frozen Four championship game in April.
Avalanche: Continue five-game road trip at Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
Sabres: Close five-game homestand versus Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
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John Wawrow, The Associated Press