Wake me up, I must be dreaming.
I'm pretty sure the Buffalo Sabres just erased a three goal deficit and beat the World Champs 4-3. Nobody would have predicted the Sabres would come back when they pulled Ryan Miller after he allowed the third goal of the game. In fact our very own Zach considered the game lost and suggested changing the channel.
I think its time to chalk this game up to bad play period. Good time to change the channel.
Much to our surprise, and delight, the Sabres didn't quit and battled back with four unanswered goals. Patrick Lalime stopped 27 shots in relief and was huge on the Pens power play just seconds after he entered the game. Lalime kept the Sabres in the game until the offense could get going.
Drew Stafford sparked the offense, first with a penalty shot goal, then with an even strength goal and finally by creating the play that set up Paul Gaustad for the equalizer. Stafford was the Sabres best skater tonight after he was a healthy scratch on Sunday against St.Louis.
This was the second consecutive game the Sabres came from behind and won after trailing in the third period. The win on Sunday wasn't quite as impressive as this victory is. The Sabres deserve credit for not quitting and coming from behind but the Penguins obviously let up a bit. Calvert pointed out as much in the comments. The Sabres should be given some credit for making adjustments.
When the Sabres aren't playing well we are quick to crticize and we never givr credit to the oponent for quality play. The Pens deserve credit for masterfully shutting down the Sabres offensive attack in the first period. They stood the Sabres up at the blueline and never allowed them to set up in the offensive zone.
The Sabres started to apply pressure in the second period because they were better in the nuetral zone. As Calvert pointed out, the Pens were backing off at the blueline and allowed the Sabres easy access to the offensive zone. The Pens started backing off after the Sabres broke their strategy with cross ice passes. Once the Sabres figured out the zone entry, they were able to generate some offense.
Using a Backup Plan
We have spent most of the season talking about how Patrick Lalime is not the right man for the Sabres backup position. Patrick Lalime has done his best to help us change our opinion and tonight he finally made me change mine. Lalime stopped all 27 shots he faced in relief of Miller.
I never thought I would see the day when Lalime would bail out Miller but that happened perfectly tonight. Miller had his worst game of the season by far and probably should have stopped all three goals he allowed. Miller let in goals that he wouldn't normally allow and stopped only 8-of-11 shots he faced.
Drew Stafford was in the worst slump of his NHL career and Lindy Ruff did the right thing by sitting him in the press box on Sunday. Stafford responded with two goals and an assist on the Sabres first three goals. He was outstanding in both ends of the rink and could have been the best defensive forward.
Some guys would have struggled because they were upset by being benched. Stafford did the opposite and resonded with the best game of the season. It is easy to respond in the fist game back but it will be consistency that will be the judge of how much he has turned his season around.