Perry's hat trick powers Ducks to win over struggling Sabres
Corey Perry's fast start has mirrored that of the Anaheim Ducks, and Frederik Andersen's stingy goaltending has been equally beneficial.
Perry had his second hat trick of the season and the two-time defending Pacific Division champions beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Wednesday night for their sixth straight victory.
The 2011 MVP and three-time All-Star has eight goals in his first seven games -- including three in the Ducks' opening-night loss at Pittsburgh. When Perry scored a career-high 50 goals four seasons ago, he didn't get his eighth until his 19th game.
"Things are going well and the whole team has been playing well. It's not just me," Perry said. "Good things are happening. I'm shooting the puck and it's going in."
Perry completed his seventh career hat trick with 1:25 left, scoring into an empty net after beating Michal Neuvirth on a one-timer from the high slot with 2:43 remaining.
"Corey is one of the best scorers in the game. And when you have that touch, the puck follows you," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "When you're a natural goal-scorer like he is, the puck tends to find your stick and good things happen."
Ryan Kesler also scored for the Ducks and Andersen made 22 saves, losing a bid for his second consecutive shutout when Tyler Ellis scored off a rebound with 5:04 to play. That ended Buffalo's scoreless streak at 192 minutes, following a 1-0 loss to Florida and 3-0 loss to Boston.
"Any time you go to the opposition's rink and their goaltender is one of the stars, you know you played well," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "We had our chances, we just didn't bury them. And we didn't bury them for a reason. Their goaltender made some good saves."
Andersen, who beat St. Louis 3-0 on Sunday night for his first NHL shutout, has been in net for each of the six wins. He has stopped 154 of 162 shots after John Gibson lost the opener in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Last season, the Ducks won seven straight after a season-opening loss at Colorado.
"I'm just feeling good about myself," Andersen said. "I'm playing simple, the way I want to. I'm working hard in practice and it pays off in the games."
The Sabres (1-6-0) began a four-game trip with their third consecutive loss. They failed to get a shot on net through the final 6:37 of the first period and had just 12 after two -- equaling their total against the Ducks in a 5-1 loss at Buffalo on Oct. 13. They came up empty on both power plays, and are 0 for 24 with the man advantage.
"We came out hard and we matched them physically," Ennis said. "We were hitting. That's a big, strong team, and we didn't back down. We played hard, we played well. We were 2-1 with a few minutes to go. There are a lot of positives to take out of it. It was a lot better game than the last few."
The Ducks scored on their first shot on net. Perry beat Neuvirth to the stick side from the right circle at 8:50 of the first period after Devante Smith-Perry threw the puck toward the middle of the neutral zone and Ryan Getzlaf tipped it perfectly to Perry.
Kesler, who scored his first career penalty-shot goal against Neuvirth in the win at Buffalo, beat the seven-year veteran to the glove side with a 40-foot wrist shot from the slot at 9:20 of the second after Andrew Cogliano carried the puck into the zone and set him up with a cross-ice pass. Neuvirth finished with 30 saves.
Chris Stewart had a golden opportunity to cut Anaheim's lead to 2-1, but put a backhander wide of left post with 11:20 remaining after Perry lost the puck to Marcus Foligno in the left circle.
"If Buffalo hadn't gone so long without scoring, and squeezing the stick, they probably would've scored a few more goals. They deserved a better fate," Boudreau said. "Freddie kept us in it."
NOTES: A moment of silence was observed out of respect for the people of Ottawa, where gunfire erupted inside the Canadian Parliament on Wednesday morning after a soldier standing guard at a war memorial was shot to death. The Ottawa Senators' scheduled home game against Toronto was postponed as a result. ... Perry is the first player with two hat tricks in his team's first seven games since Ilya Kovalchuk in 2003, and just the sixth since 1985. ... The Sabres have never been shut out in three straight games since joining the NHL in 1970-71. ... The Ducks have outshot their opponents in only two of their first seven games. The other one was the game at Buffalo, when they had a 44-12 advantage in Neuvirth's only other start. ... Neuvirth played for Boudreau in Washington during the goalie's first four NHL seasons. ... Nolan will coach against son Jordan for the first time in an NHL game Thursday night when the Sabres face the Stanley Cup champion Kings at Staples Center.