Olofsson’s Golden Touch Fuels Sabres’ Power Play

Buffalo Sabres rookie forward Victor Olofsson has an incredibly quick release. He has a lethal, laser-like shot. And now, the 24-year-old Swede also has an NHL record.

Olofsson scored on a one-timer from Rasmus Dahlin in the Sabres’ Columbus Day matinee in KeyBank Center against the Dallas Stars to become the first NHL player to score each of his first seven career goals on the power play. To make it even sweeter, it turned out to be the game-winner as Carter Hutton pitched a 25-save shutout in a 4-0 win. It was Hutton’s first shutout in two seasons with the Sabres.

Related: Sabres Primed for Deep Playoff Run

Previously, three players shared the record for scoring their first six career goals on the power play: Craig Norwich of the Winnipeg Jets in 1979-80, Sylvan Turgeon of the Hartford Whalers in 1983-84 and Jeff Norton of the New York Islanders in 1987-88.

Olofsson’s Record-Breaking Performance

The record-breaking power-play tally was a thing of beauty. After a series of perimeter passes between Jack Eichel, Rasmus Dahlin and Olofsson, Olofsson fired home a one-time slapshot that went top shelf to Ben Bishop’s left. Olofsson has been lethal from the right-side half wall. His soft hands and no-hesitation blast are a constant threat.

This was the fifth time in six games this season he’s lit the lamp, helping to fuel the team’s quick start. He also has two assists, giving him seven points to lead all NHL rookies in scoring. The Sabres’ 2014 seventh-round pick put up 30 goals and 63 points in 66 games with the Rochester Americans of the AHL last season.

Though media and fans wanted Olofsson to be called up to the big club in hopes of salvaging last year’s season, general manager Jason Botterill’s kept him in Rochester until the last few weeks. Once he was brought up to the Sabres, he scored two goals–both on the power play–in six games. He also had the primary assist on Eichel’s 100th NHL goal.

Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill
Sabres GM Jason Botterill did not rush Olofsson into the Sabres lineup. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes, File)

“Sometimes those games at the end of the year, it’s not the same intensity, when you’re out of the playoffs and playing other teams out of the playoffs too,” said Botterill. “It can give guys a false security that they’re ready for the National Hockey League. Instead of Victor just thinking it was going to happen, you could tell he worked extremely hard on his body this offseason. He came to camp so serious and focus. We moved him around a lot during training camp, and no matter where he played, he was effective.”

All of Olofsson’s Power Play Goals

Olofsson’s first career goal was a wrister past former Sabres goalie Robin Lehner. His second goal was a rocket of a one-timer that went top corner past Ottawa Senators goalie Joey Daccord.

His first goal this season and third of his NHL career was a wrister from the top circle while playing against the New Jersey Devils. He added another that game, a 7-2 drubbing.

Olofsson hammered home a one-timer for his third goal this season and fifth of his career from the top of the circle against the Columbus Blue Jackets to tie the game late in the third period.

The sneaky Swede’s fourth goal of the season came against the Montreal Canadiens. A beauty cross-ice feed from Eichel that he wristed in the net.

Sabres’ Power Play on Fire

The Sabres’ power play is red hot, scoring on an eye-popping 42.8 percent of their chances this season (9 for 21). They’re 6 for 15 at home (40%) and 3 for 6 (50%) on the road. The league-leading squad features a first unit of Victor Olofsson, Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Jeff Skinner and Rasmus Dahlin.

When the opposition favors Eichel, it opens up space for Dahlin to dish Olofsson a one-timer. They move the puck really well and find the seams for cross-ice passes that can be trouble for netminders. “[Eichel] is one of the better passers in the league, so I try to find some open ice and he finds me,” said Olofsson. “I feel like we all have great chemistry… with Sam. It’s a lot of fun.”

Juuso Riikola Victor Olofsson
Olofsson has great awareness on the ice. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

The Sabres entered the game leading the NHL on the power play and went 1-for-2 to push their season figure to 9-for-21 (42.8%). They are 6-for-15 at home (40%).

According to the Sabres PR Department, since Olofsson made his NHL debut on March 28, 2019, vs. the Detroit Red Wings, no NHL player has scored more power-play goals than his seven goals in 12 games played. His five power-play goals this season tie James Neal for the league lead.

First-Line Minutes

Olofsson attended six development camps before he finally cracked the roster with the big club this season. Now, he’s found a home on the Sabres first line with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart.

Not only does he have the speed to keep up with them and the on-ice awareness to play at a high level, but he’s also seamlessly made the jump to the top line. It’s only a matter of time before he nets his first goal at 5-on-5. He did score a goal at even strength in a preseason game.

Drafted by Sabres

Nicknamed “Goalofsson” by fans, Olofsson spent five years playing in the Swedish Elite League before signing with the Sabres in April 2018.

“I wasn’t really expected to get drafted,” said Olofsson. “I was out on the golf course and got a phone call from my brother who said I was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres.”

“He’s got a world-class shot. He’s so smart out there and competes,” said teammate Sam Reinhart. “I only expect him to get more comfortable and realize he can play the game at this level.”

Sam Reinhart Sabres
Sam Reinhart likes what he sees from Olofsson. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“It’s not very often you see a guy who finds a way to get pucks through the way he does. And he has a heavy shot,” said Toby Peterson, assistant coach of the Amerks. “He’s very coachable and he’s driven to reach the highest level he can.”

Home Swede Home

Olofsson is from a small town in Sweden – Ornskoldsvik – where hockey is everything. Some notable names to come from his hometown include: Peter Forsberg, Markus Naslund, Victor Hedman, Nicklas Sundstrom, Toby Enstrom, and the Sedin brothers, Henrik and Daniel.

Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Team Sweden, World Cup of Hockey, Hockey
The Sedin brothers are just a few players from Olofosson’s hometown (Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports)

Olofsson is playing in the second year of a two-year contract that pays him $1.85 million. He’ll be a restricted free agent, likely due for a hefty raise, next season.

Hot Sabres Head West

At 5-0-1, the Sabres earned a point in their first six games for the first time since the team went 6-0-2 through its first eight games of the 2008-09 season. The Sabres’ 4-0 start at home is their best since the 2006-07 season.

The Sabres open a brutal three-games-in-four-nights West Coast road trip against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday and the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. If Olofsson and the power play continue to convert, they’re going to be hard to stop.