With the final home preseason game of the season, the Buffalo Sabres are getting closer to fielding the roster that they are going to start the season with against Detroit on October 2nd. The team that had the bigger veteran presence put together a solid performance in a 3-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.
Quick and Dirty Recap
Both teams got off to a slow start with a total of 17 shots on goal combined. The first period was the second completely scoreless period for the Sabres in this preseason. The only other period was the first period of Saturday night's matchup with Toronto.
Ville Leino got the scoring started for the Sabres in the second period as he collected the rebound of a Cody Hodgson shot in front of the net and put it past goaltender Mike McKenna. The goal came with the extra attacker out and featured a good series of passes that, although it frustrated the paying audience, eventually worked their way to the net. McKenna was replaced halfway in the second period for Jeremy Smith so both Columbus goaltenders could see some playing time in this game.
The Sabres offense broke out in the third period with the only other two goals in this game. Mikhail Grigorenko scored his second of the preseason with a wrister over the blocker of Smith. Zemgus Girgensons finished off the game with an empty net goal.
Jhonas Enroth played the full 60 minutes for the Sabres and earned the 26 shot shutout. While not to discount the performance that Enroth put on, the Blue Jackets dressed a line up that featured only eight NHL regulars from last year and was missing some key offensive players.
Things That Stood Out
Sabres Special Teams
The Sabres special teams definitely got a workout with Columbus having seven powerplays in the game. The Sabres were able to kill all of the powerplays, but allowed 15 shots on goal while a man down. Steve Ott led the team in shorthanded ice time with 5:17, followed closely by Drew Stafford at 5:00. The power play had three chances of their own and Ville Leino's goal came with the extra attacker on the ice.
Head coach Ron Rolston admitted after the game that the team hasn't had much time to work on the special teams. "It's been mostly on video, a lot of teaching there, but we really haven't had the time because we've had so many other areas that we had to work on. Moving into tomorrow and next week, we'll work a lot more on the special teams."
Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons
The two first round picks from the 2012 draft were on a line with the lone first round pick from 2011 in Joel Armia. This line stood out for most of the night as they generated a handful of scoring chances and were able to finish those chances in the third period. Mikhail finished the night with a goal, an assist, and a team high four shots on goal in 12:37 of ice time. Zemgus had just the goal and three shots in 14:41 of playing time. Coach Rolston was asked about the line's play after the game. "They did a good job. They had a lot of energy. I thought. Zemgus was being physical and stirring things up and the other two guys have a lot of skill. I thought Joel played a more competitive game. I liked what they did."
Mike Weber had one of the quietest three point nights you are going to see in the NHL. Picking up the secondary assist on all three goals will do that for a player. Weber played only 17:41 during the game, which was only ahead of partner Rasmus Ristolainen in terms of defensive ice time. After the game, he talked about the key to his performance. "Again, three points is not going to happen every night for me, so it's a nice thing. I'd rather have done it in the regular season but it's one of those things where I just played solid tonight. I think Ristolainen was excellent tonight and actually made me look a little better out there so it's good on him."
The Sabres play their final preseason game of the year on Thursday night in Carolina before starting the season on October 2nd against new division rival Detroit.