Connor Clifton hadn’t scored a goal since last season. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu

Connor Clifton, Sabres score dirty goals in road wins

BUFFALO – Prior to both games during the Sabres’ fathers and mentors trip, Connor Clifton’s dad, Tim, addressed the team and colorfully called for some dirty goals.

In defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens, the Sabres wreaked havoc on goalies, scoring three times with bodies around the net creating traffic.

Fittingly, Connor Clifton scored Friday’s winner 3:05 into the third period, his first goal in his 55th outing with the Sabres.

“Tim Clifton, Connor’s dad, set the tone the other day,” Sabres coach Don Granato told reporters in Columbus following Friday’s 2-1 win. “He followed it up again today wanting Tim Clifton hockey, and you guys saw Tim Clifton hockey, just so you know.”

While Connor Clifton shot the puck from the point, he believes it was the type of goal his father demanded.

“I count it, just because so many bodies were at the net,” said the defenseman, whose Sabres host the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at KeyBank Center.

The Sabres’ inability to pay a price has cost them goals and wins. For example, following their 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 10, a frustrated Granato said his team needed to elevate its “work ethic” to the net.

“That’s always the reflex when you don’t score, everybody talks about not getting to the net enough,” Granato said Friday. “And really it’s about getting to the net more and more and at the right time. I thought, obviously, we were in better sync with that and we generated because of that.”

Clifton said: “Past couple games we’re getting to the paint, we’re pushing the goalie back and getting some tips and rebounds.”

Clifton, 28, hadn’t scored in 72 games, since March 2, when he was a member of the Boston Bruins playing the Sabres.

“Just good timing for him,” he said of his father seeing it in person.

Notes: The Sabres have won five straight road games, the fifth-longest streak in franchise history. They’re 14-11-3 on the road this season but just 12-16-1 at home. … Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin skated 29 minutes, 54 seconds against Columbus, making him the first Sabres player to play at least 29 minutes in five consecutive games since the NHL began tracking ice time in 1997-98. … The Sabres had Saturday off.

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