The Buffalo Sabres entered their game last night against Phoenix riddled by both injury and the flu. With four players home sick, two on injured reserve, no reinforcements available thank to their farm team playing in Europe, and playing a team scratching and clawing for a playoff spot, the Sabres were in bad shape.
In other words, they were going to need a miracle.
Well, Santa/Jesus/Flying Spaghetti Monster delivered early last night, and the depleted Sabres escaped overtime with a 2-1 win thanks to one of the craziest goals you'll ever see. With just over a minute left in the extra period, Mark Pysyk found himself racing Coyotes goalie Mike Smith to get to a loose puck deep in the Phoenix zone. Both players got their sticks on it, and the puck flipped way up in the air. A few desperate hand swipes couldn't find the rubber, and the puck fell improbably in to the crease between Mike Smith's jersey and pants. Smith, unaware of the puck in his pocket, hustled back to cover the crease, and promptly skated the puck right into his own net. Game over, Sabres win.
There was a lot that happened before #BUTTGOAL, however. It started with the fact that the Sabres were only dressing 16 skaters and 2 goalies thanks to a flu bug that kept four players home sick; it was Buffalo's most shorthanded playing squad since 1981. The bench got even shorter after Drew Stafford was ejected for elbowing Oliver Ekman-Larsson - check out the hit right here.
So with only three lines, and John Scott switching from defense to forward, the Sabres settled in to try and ease in to the game in order to preserve their short bench for three full periods - and what resulted was another typical Buffalo first period with the home team being outshot 15-3. Things heated up in the second, but it was Phoenix who struck first thanks to a Martin Hanza goal that had his stick juuuuuust under the crossbar.
It was the Sabres turn to score midway through the third thanks to a beautiful Tyler Ennis goal set up by Zemgus Girgensons, whose very strong play (seven shots and three hits) through 22 minutes of ice time earned him first star honors. The Sabres survived the rest of the period to send things to overtime, and the rest is history.
For their efforts, the Sabres will have three days off for the holidays, and will be back in action on Friday versus the Leafs. Enjoy your holiday season, folks, and bask in the joy of a ridiculous Sabres win.
1. Who the heck will even play tonight
2. Can Ryan Miller continue to absolutely dominate the Coyotes?
Yes he can. Miller improved to 5-0-0 lifetime versus the Coyotes, and had a .973 save percentage in his one-goal performance tonight. Paying attention, Sochi committee?
3. Will Sabres fans head in to the holiday break full of Christmas cheer, or will they feel more like pre-ghost Scrooge?
I woke up this morning feeling like this, and I'm sure many of you guys did too.
1. Zemgus Girgensons - he lights the way for Sabres fans
2. Ryan Miller - 37 saves and one questionable goal allowed
3. Tyler Ennis - a beautiful game-tier to send it to OT
Comment of the Game
Rather than saying Girgensons is in God mode:
dudeGod is in Girgensons mode
Zemgus doesn't do push-ups, he does Earth-downs.