Disappointing, frustrating, unbelievable, surreal, a nightmare, disgusting, unfortunate. Any one of these words would be a good way to describe the Sabres loss on Saturday night. The only good way to describe it is...UNACCEPTABLE!
Sure the Sabres had to battle through plenty of obstacles tonight. The officiating was suspect at best and Kari Lehtonen was outstanding between the pipes for the Thrashers but with all of that working against the Sabres, they held a two goal lead with under seven minutes left to play. They held a two goal lead with less than seven minutes left to play against a team that is competing in the John Tavares lottery and yet they managed to lose in a shootout.
It was a strange game right from the beginning. The Sabres played a pretty good defensive first period but managed little in the way of offense. Despite a very physical period from both sides, the Sabres were called for the only three penalties in the first. The third call was the most suspect as Dominic Moore was called for tripping Kari Lehtonen despite what appeared to be a dive from Lehtonen. The Thrashers capitalized on the opportunity with only 26 seconds left in the first period.
Buffalo started to generate some offense in the second period and it eventually paid off when Danile Paille beat Lehtonen with just over six minutes left in the period. The Sabres added two more goals before the end of the period and led by two after two periods.
The Sabres had an opportunity to make it a three goal lead b ut failed to take advantage of the opportunity after Eric Perrin attacked Tim Connolly immediately after the opening face-off. The Sabres second power play of the period was even worse and was the beginning of the end for the Sabres. Jaro Spacek made two bad decisions on the same play and Jason Pominville and Tim Connolly both let the team down with a lazy play. Spacek tried to take a shot from the point but had it blocked creating a 2-on-1 opportunity for the Thrashers. Spacek made his second bad decision when he dove to block the shot and allowed Marty Reasoner to be all alone in front for the rebound. Replays showed that Jason Pominville and Tim Connolly both gave up on the play which allowed Marty Reasoner to have all the time in the world to beat Patrick Lalime.
Although the shorthanded goal was the most inexcusable play of the game it was another giveaway in the final seconds that allowed the Thrashers to tie the game with only 3.5 seconds left. Lalime made the initial save on the tying goal but the puck fell behind him and Todd White was able to slide it into the net just before Lalime covered it with his glove.
Better Team Doesn't Always Win
For long stretches of this game the Sabres were the better team. They often controlled play and at one point in the second period they had held the Thrashers without a shot for over nine minutes. In the end it was the Sabres that had the bigger mistakes and that allowed the Thrashers to come away with two points.
A Trend is Developing
This was the third time this season that the Sabres and Thrashers have played. All three games have ended with the Sabres losing in a shootout. The Sabres were in Atlanta all the way back on October 18, 2008 and fell 3-2 in a shootout. Back on November 7, 2008 the Thrashers were in Buffalo for the first time this season and they came away with a 5-4 shootout win.
Lehtonen Saves the Day
We keep talking about all the bad plays the Sabres made and we haven't mentioned how good Kari Lehtonen was. Lehtone made 34 saves and many of them were of the spectacular variety. he robbed Thomas Vanek a couple of times but none was more important than stuffing him on a breakaway in the third period. He made possibly his best save when he gloved a Tim Connolly wrist shot late in the third period. Connolly's shot appeared destined for the top corner but Lehtonen reached out and snared it with his glove.
Harry Neale Quote of the Game
It was an interesting night for the quote and because of that we are going to have a little bonus feature tonight. It took until the shootout for Harry to come up with this gem...
If it were raining inside the rink, Kozlov would have rusted up.
He said that in reference to Kozlov using a slow approach to his shootout attempt.
It took Harry until the shootout for a gem but his partner came up with a quote of his own in the early going of this game. RJ had this gem in the first period...
He dippsied when he should have doodled.
That was in reference to an offside call on the Thrashers.
During the second intermission I decided to surf the web a little bit and I came across this beauty of a quote. The quote came courtesy of Frostee via Twitter...
Max just scored. With his stick. As if he wanted to!
Frostee writes a great Sabres blog called Fanatical Fan. It's on my everyday read list and you should probably check it out.
Any more games like this and we might lose our game day crowd. I want to thank everyone that was here tonight and as always I encourage you to check it out as well. We are always looking for more people to come in and chat with us.
Roll Call: Whale4ever, ccthemovieman, D.O., qdloser, aerosmithers, dfderie, HO, Americanario
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The Sabres are off until Tuesday when they travel to Ottawa to take on the Senators. The Sabres have not fared well against the Senators this season but they NEED to get TWO POINTS in that game!