3 things we learned in the NHL: Don’t sleep on the Buffalo Sabres


Buffalo Sabres' Rasmus Dahlin carries the puck. (Jay LaPrete/AP)

The Buffalo Sabres are legitimately in the playoff hunt, Rasmus Dahlin is entering Bobby Orr territory, and the Winnipeg Jets’ Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler are rewriting history.

Here are three things we learned in the NHL Tuesday night.

Don’t sleep on the Buffalo Sabres

Led by Jeff Skinner‘s 31st goal of the season, Buffalo started off the post-all-star break stretch on the right note, defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4 Tuesday night. The Blue Jackets, who currently sit third in the Metropolitan division, exchanged chances with the Sabres all night, but ultimately couldn’t solve Carter Hutton when it mattered most.

With the win, the Sabres now move into a tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second and final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The team’s off-season decisions to aggressively acquire Skinner and Conor Sheary — who also chipped in with a goal and an assist — have paid off, and we’ll see if it’ll be enough to carry the Sabres to their first playoff berth in eight years.

Rasmus Dahlin in Bobby Orr territory

Rasmus Dahlin has been quietly impressive on the Sabres blue line in his first NHL season, a token to his stability as a rookie defenceman. The teenager added two assists in the team’s win over Columbus, bringing his point total to 28 (five goals, 23 assists) — the sixth-most points in NHL history by an 18-year-old defenceman.

The Swedish defenceman is on pace to surpass Bobby Orr’s 38 points for second all-time on that list before he turns 19 on April 13, though he probably won’t come close to his current head coach Phil Housley’s 57.

Dahlin also recorded his sixth multi-point game tonight, joining Orr (eight) and Housley (13) as the only defencemen in NHL history to have at least six before their 19th birthday.

Winnipeg Jets duo rewriting history

Since its Atlanta Thrashers days, the Winnipeg Jets have not had two players score 60 or more points in the team’s first 50 games — until now.

With two assists in the Jets’ shootout win over the Boston Bruins in a playoff-like atmosphere at TD Garden, centre Mark Scheifele joined Blake Wheeler as the first Jets teammates to notch at least 60 points in the team’s first 50 games since Ilya Kovalchuk, Marc Savard, and Marian Hossa accomplished the feat as members of the Thrashers back in 2005-06.

The duo has been the focal point of the Jets offence this year. In his 11th season, Wheeler has scored nine times and added an astounding 53 assists, while Scheifele has scored 25 times and chipped in 36 assists in his sixth full NHL season. The next leading scorer on the Jets is Kyle Connor with 40 points.

The original Winnipeg Jets franchise only managed this feat two times: In 1983-84 with Lucien DeBlois and Dale Hawerchuk and in 1984-85 with Hawerchuk and Paul Maclean.

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