Buffalo Sabres 7 @ NY Islanders 1
It is a complete 360 from the Sabres first two games of last season. In a rare Monday afternoon game the Sabres lit the lamp seven times to beat the the New York Islanders on Long Island. Once again it was ThomasVanek leading the way as he scored two goals to increase his season total to three in only two games played. Vanek netted one goal on the power play and another while the Sabres were shorthanded.
Last season Vanek started slowly and didn't really turn it on until the second half the season. He finished the season with a team leading 36 goals in 2007-2008 but at this pace he will easliy eclipse the 50 goal mark.
The game was close through one period with the only goal coming off the stick of Jochen Hecht on a strange angle shot that bounced off Islanders goalie Joey MacDonald and into the net. The goal was scored on the power play and was the Sabres first power play goal this season.
It was the second period when the Sabres broke the game open, scoring four times to lead 5-0 after two periods. Adam Mair and Jason Pominville scored even stregnth goals and Thomas Vanek scored the Sabres first shorthanded goal of the season. Vanek also added a power play goal to give the Sabres a 5-0 lead.
After the Sabres went ahead 4-0 the frustration set in for the Islanders and tempers flared immediately following the face-off. Three seperate altercations took place with the biggest beating coming at the hands of Sabres Captain Craig Rivet, Sean Bergenheim was the unlikely recipient for the Islanders. Adam Mair and Patrick Kaleta were also in scraps of their own at the same time. Rivet and Kaleta were given game misconducts.
In a mildly surprise move the Sabres started Patrick Lalime in net and Ryan Miller watched from the walkway to the locker room. Before the game it figured that would be the game story but seven goals later it's a footnote at the bottom of the post. Lalime played well turning away 23-of-24 shots and not allowing a goal until Trent Hunter beat him over the top shoulder with just under 15 minutes left in the game.
Last season the Sabres were a high powered offense but they struggled defensively and they were sometimes too soft. It's only two games but those problems seem to be solved. The Sabres played well in their own zone (most of the time) and it's easy to see the toughness that was added with Craig Rivet.
The Sabres are currently tied in fourth place with an average of four goals per game and even more impressively they are allowing only one goal a game, tied with New Jersey and Montreal and behind San Jose. San Jose has allowed only two goals in three games played.
It was a slow day in the game thread with the 2 o'clock Monday afternoon start but we had three people show up that deserve mention. HO, Lion Alum and Brian Galliford were all here to see the Sabres 7-1 victory over the Islanders. HO led the way with 28 posts. Great job to all and we'll see you Wednesday night for the game against the Rangers. It's a bit more conventional start time with a 7PM face-off.