By JONAH BRONSTEIN Associated Press
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Victor Olofsson and the Buffalo Sabres are building confidence from a strong start to the season.
The Sabres’ rookie forward set an NHL record by becoming the first player to score his first seven career goals on the power play during a 4-0 win over the Dallas Stars on Monday.
“It’s obviously fun to have some kind of record,” said Olofsson, who also had an assist in the win. “I want to get that five-on-five goal.”
Carter Hutton made 25 saves to earn his first shutout of the season, Sam Reinhart, Jeff Skinner and Marcus Johansson had the other goals, and Jack Eichel recorded two assists as the Sabres remained unbeaten under first-year coach Ralph Krueger.
“It was definitely our best performance of the season, start to finish,” Krueger said.
Buffalo (5-0-1) has earned a point in its 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 2006-07.
“Any time you get off to a good start and get results, confidence naturally comes with that,” Skinner said. “Being able to get off to a good start results-wise is nice. Now we have to keep the momentum going.”
Meanwhile, the Stars are trying to not let the early results shake their confidence. Dallas’ 1-5-1 record after seven games is its worst since the franchise, then the Minnesota North Stars, opened the 1990-91 season with an identical mark.
“You just dig in as a group. A little adversity never hurt,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said. “It seems like it’s magnified because it’s the start of the year here. You can kind of get away with stretches like this in the middle of the season.”
Ben Bishop stopped 18 shots for the Stars. Bishop entered the game with a 12-0-1 record and consecutive shutouts against the Sabres.
Coach Jim Montgomery said the Stars gave a better effort than they did in Saturday night’s 4-1 loss at home against Washington.
“If we keep skating and competing like that, things will turn,” Montgomery said. “That’s a much better team performance, even though the result no one likes.”
Olofsson set his record on a one-timer off Rasmus Dahlin’s pass from the right circle to open the scoring 6:27 into the second period. A delay of game penalty on the Stars’ bench put the Sabres on the power play.
Nicknamed “Goal-ofsson” by Sabres fans, the 24-year-old Swede has five goals in Buffalo’s first six games. His streak dates to the end of last season when he scored twice in six games. Since making his NHL debut on March 28, no NHL player has more power-play goals than Olofsson.
Buffalo has scored nine goals in 21 power-play chances this season for an NHL-leading 42.8 percent success rate.
Olofsson set up the Sabres’ second goal late in the second period. He sent a backhand pass from the boards to Reinhart for a one-timer from the high slot.
Skinner made it 3-0 with his fourth goal of the season 4:20 into the third period. After receiving a pass from Vladimir Sobotka in front of the crease, Skinner faked a shot before sweeping a backhander by Bishop.
Less than two minutes later, Johansson unloaded a slap shot from just inside the blue line for Buffalo’s fourth goal.
Buffalo scored twice in the third period despite putting just three shots on goal.
“Maybe we didn’t get the shots we wanted in the third period, but we definitely kept forechecking,” Krueger said. “It’s just part of who we want to be. Sabres hockey should run from beginning to end, no matter the score.”
NOTES: Three players shared the previous record for scoring their first six career goals on the power play: Winnipeg’s Craig Norwich in 1979-90, Hartford’s Sylvain Turgeon in 1983-84, and Jeff Norton of the Islanders in 1987-88. . Reinhart and Johansson both have three goals this season. . The Stars are now 1 for 22 on the power play this season after going scoreless on two chances. . Dallas has won five straight and eight of nine against the Sabres. . The Sabres scored more than one goal against the Stars for the first time in five meetings. . Montgomery shuffled the Stars’ top lines by swapping centers Roope Hintz and Tyler Seguin. . Buffalo scratched F Curtis Lazar after calling him up from the minors on Sunday.
Stars: Visit Columbus on Wednesday.
Sabres: Open three-game West Coast road trip at Anaheim on Wednesday.
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