Cody Hodgson wanted to play well.
The centerman along with Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis were benched for the final 26:11 of the Buffalo Sabres embarrassing performance in a loss at Anaheim on Friday.
Hodgson, now paired with Moulson and Steve Ott, needed to bring hard work and produce results. He did that on Tuesday, scoring both of Buffalo’s goals in regulation as the Sabres earned a 3-2 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings at First Niagara Center.
It was the fifth two-goal game in Hodgson’s career and helped the Sabres earn their first home win of the season.
“I wanted to have a big game but at the same time it just feels nice to win,” Hodgson said. “That’s all we’re worried about right now. It was the first one at home. We’re going to enjoy it.
“Obviously you try to put the other game in the past and don’t think about it. It’s nice to contribute tonight and for Mouls and I to be a part of it.”
Hodgson scored at 12:46 of the second period to tie the game, 1-1, on a hard-charging play from his line.
“It was a good play by Mouls moving it wide and driving the net and an awesome pass by Steve. I was there to tap it in. It felt great,” Hodgson said.
He then gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal early in the third, again with an assist from Moulson.
Hodgson had four shots on goal as his line generated a number of scoring chances and created energy.
“We’ll have to look at it but I thought first period, as a line, I thought we went in, made some chances, got some turnovers,” Hodgson said.
“I think it was a combination of everything. Just getting in on the forecheck. Steve brings a physical presence out there that makes guys a little uneasy on the other team so they’re fumbling pucks, that type of thing. It makes it nice for Matt and I to come and pick those up.”
Hodgson picked up those pucks around the net for his first goals against the Kings. He now has 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in the last 18 games.
For Moulson, it was his sixth multi-point performance in 18 games. He added the first goal in the shootout, improving to 11-for-18 (61.1 percent) in career shootout attempts.
Robyn Regehr made his first return to First Niagara Center since the Sabres traded the defenseman to the Kings.
Regehr played from 2011 to last April, when he was among the veterans (Jason Pominville and Jordan Leopold were the others) Buffalo dealt away around the trade deadline.
“They’ve gotten rid of most of the older players and really decided to go young,” Regehr said. “With that type of rebuilding process, there’s going to be lumps and they’re going to be big.”
As coach Ron Rolston works to develop young players on his Sabres roster, he pointed to the work that Willie Mitchell of the Kings has done in his career.
Rolston coached Mitchell at Clarkson from 1997-99. Mitchell, in his 14th NHL season and fourth with the Kings, was drafted by New Jersey in the eighth round in 1996.
“He’s continued to evolve in his game which is a good lesson for all young players,” Rolston said. “At Clarkson, he was a big presence but he was a lot more of an offensive player at that level. He created a lot of offense for us because he had the skill level but he got to the pro game and he’s evolved his game to one of the best defenders in the league.”
Mitchell played 19:37 Tuesday and blocked two shots.
Sabres fans breezed through the new security checkpoint they had to pass Tuesday — a scan with a magnetic wand, now mandatory for all National Hockey League games — as they headed for their seats at FNC.
“Coats open, all metal out of your pockets,” greeters announced. The wanding took place after tickets were confirmed at the turnstiles and for anyone accustomed to screening at airports, it was no big deal. Fans pulled cellphones from their pockets, raised their arms as they were scanned front and back. The process took about five seconds.
Sabres scratches included Johan Larsson, John Scott and Nikita Zadorov
News Staff Reporter Dale Anderson contributed to this report.