Zegras scooped the puck onto the blade of his stick behind the net and lobbed it over goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s head. Sonny Milano was waiting on the right edge of the crease and batted the feed past Luukkonen’s glove for his eighth goal 5:14 into the second period.
“I still can’t believe it worked,” said Zegras, who celebrated the goal with both hands on his head. “It’s pretty funny. I’ve tried it a couple of times and haven’t even come close. For him to whack it out of the air and keep it under the crossbar was pretty incredible.”
Milano was ready for the pass but said he initially wanted Zegras to keep the puck and try for a wrap-around, lacrosse-style goal, like the one Mike Legg famously scored for the University of Michigan in 1996.
“I expected him to do the Michigan himself before I even called for it,” Milano said. “He wasn’t, so I was just like, 'Just do it.' I was like, ‘Michigan, Michigan,’ and he ended up just throwing it to me and I batted it in.”
Ducks coach Dallas Eakins marveled at how Zegras “believes he can do anything with the puck” and said that during his NHL playing career from 1988-2004, “there was not a chance that any of us could do that with a puck.”
“These kids think out of the box now,” Eakins added. “I think it’s great for the sport. We are in the entertainment business. And that was a really special goal.”
Eakins was as impressed with the finish from Milano, who has scored in three straight and has six points on a four-game streak.
“That’s two games in a row now where Sonny Milano has knocked one out of the air,” Eakins said. “It’s hard enough to hit a round ball with a round bat. I challenge anybody to hit a puck out of the air with a stick like that, two games in a row."
Zegras leads rookies with 16 assists. The 20-year-old was drafted ninth overall in 2019 by the Ducks and has eight assists in four December games, most in the league for the month.
Sam Carrick also scored for Anaheim, which extended its point streak to five games (3-0-2), responding from a 4-3 shootout loss in Washington on Monday. They won on the second night of a back-to-back set opening their five-game Eastern road trip.
Buffalo has lost five in a row and fell to 1-8-1 over its past 10 games.
The Sabres’ defense was an improvement after they allowed 20 goals in their previous three losses. Luukkonen stopped 21 shots in his season debut for the Sabres.
“UPL looked good, looked comfortable,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I thought we helped him out a bit more than we had been lately. It was nice to see him feel good, look good. But obviously, no support on the scoring end was the difference.”
Carrick deflected in Josh Manson’s shot from the point for the Ducks’ second goal with 2:08 left in the third period.
Stolarz made 15 saves in the final period to preserve his second shutout in three starts and fourth straight win.
“For Stolie to come in and pitch a shutout, especially on the road, I think that’s really tough,” Zegras said. “I’m proud of the way we rallied for this game.”
Sabres: C Casey Mittelstadt went to the the dressing room in the third period and did not return. Granato had no definitive update after the game, but said he does not believe Mittelstadt re-injured the upper-body part that cause him to miss 20 games earlier this season. ... Luukkonen was called up from the from the minors after recently acquired G Malcolm Subban sustained a lower-body injury during Saturday night’s loss at Carolina. Luukkonen was the fifth goalie to start for Buffalo. Subban skated on Tuesday. ... D Robert Hagg missed his second game with an undisclosed injury.
Ducks: At Columbus on Thursday.
Sabres: Host New York Rangers on Friday.