The final score was 5-0 but that doesn't tell the story of the game tonight. I'm not sure that I'm ready to say that the Kings dominated the game but I am comfortable saying they were better than Buffalo offensively. Buffalo got a couple of lucky bounces and an outstanding game from Ryan Miller. Miller faced 40 shots from the Kings and turned away all 40, dare I say that this was his best game of the season? I think it was his best game and his third shutout of the season.
Because Miller was so good tonight he allowed the offense to really get things going. Buffalo scored three times on their first 10 shots while Miller was making save after save at the other end. It was one of those games that you get rewarded for just putting the puck on net. The Sabres first goal was actually scored by Kings defenseman Kyle Quincey. Derek Roy just flipped the puck from behind the net and Quincey cleared it off of his Goalie Jason Labarbara and into the net.
A game like today will definitely help the Sabres 5-on-5 statistics that I have been harping on so much recently. In addition the secondary scoring will receive a boost with five different goal scorers tonight. It's no surprise when Derek Roy scores, a mild surprise when Clarke MacArthur and Drew Stafford score but the other two goal scorers are surprising. Somehow, Adam Mair has scored four goals this season. His goal tonight was not a thing of beauty but it counted as his fourth. Labarbara made a save on a shot from the point and Adam Mair was not only crashing the net but he was behind Labarbara and easily slid the loose puck into the open net. The Sabres final goal of the game was scored by Matt Ellis (yeah the same Matt Ellis that I said wouldn't help the team).
Ellis did exactly what I expected out of him tonight except for the goal he scored. He made very few mistakes and made some good safe plays with the puck. That is something we don't normally see out of Max Afinogenov and that is why he was in the press box while Ellis took a regular shift.
In addition to Ellis, Chris Butler was called up and made his NHL debut this evening. He seemed really comfortable when he had the puck but it was easy to tell he was nervous at times, especially early in the game. It took Butler just over a period to get his first NHL point as he assisted on the Adam Mair goal after his shot was stopped by Labarbara.
One of the more disturbing parts of the game came just over half way through the game. Patrick Kaleta went flying in behind the Kings net and missed a check on a Kings Defenseman. Denis Gauthier immediately went after Kaleta and missed what would have been a vicious elbow to the head. Instead of checking his number and trying to get him later Gauthier went after him immediately and dropped him with a right. It was the type of hit the NHL should and will have another look at.
We all know that Kaleta plays an aggressive physical style of play and he does cross the line sometimes. He may have even crossed the line tonight but nobody deserves to get a cheap shot like he did this evening. It wasn't quite the same as what Todd Bertuzzi did to Barrie Moore because it was from the side but it was equally as dirty. There is no room in hockey fro plays like this and Gauthier deserves a rather lengthy suspension.
Die by the Blade Three Stars
- Ryan Miller - no doubt about it, no questions asked he was by far the best player on the ice.
- Derek Roy - Had a goal and two assists but more importantly he played a good complete hockey game tonight.
- Chris Butler/Matt Ellis - I criticized the moves the team made yesterday and both guys contributed to the Sabres victory.
Harry Neale Quote of the Game
The Harry Neale quote of the game took a blittle bit of a hiatus the past couple of games but it is back tonight. Tonight's winner came early in the contest on a play by Derek Roy. Roy made a move on the defenseman and missed a shot wide and Harry made a quote in reference to the move Roy made.
"He's slicker than the hair on a frogs back"
The Sabres head to Montreal to take on the Montreal Canadiens at 7:00PM. Lindy Ruff has been hesitant to use Ryan Miller in back-to-back games so it will be interesting to see what he does tomorrow. I think Miller starts because of his outstanding performance tonight.