This was a game the Sabres were supposed to win and they did. The score of this game will not give you an indication of what happened on the ice. This was a solid defensive win for the Sabres, even if the Oilers are playing without some key players. The Sabres played shorthanded for 14:47 and allowed only one power play goal on a 5-on-3. This was a gutsy win and something the team can build off of.
This was a boring first period of hockey, a trend I am quickly getting used to this season. It was the Sabres that controlled play and were rewarded with the only goal of the period. Thomas Vanek probably had the better chance to score but his wrist shot was stopped by Khabibulin. The rebound was in front of the crease and Drew Stafford made a nice strong play to get his stick on it and poke it behind Khabibulin for the only goal of the first period.
The second period needs to be broken up into two separate segments. There was the first eight minutes, when the Sabres were playing well and Steve Montador scored his first goal of the season to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead. Unfortunately, there was a second segment that was the last 12 minutes of the period. In the final 12 minutes, the Sabres took five minor penalties and four of them resulted in Oilers power plays. It took a 5-on-3 advantage for the Oilers to finally beat Miller and Patrick O'Sullivan did just that in the final minutes of the period.
The third period was gut check time for the Sabres. They needed to protect their one goal lead in order to end their two game losing streak. Buffalo had three power play opportunities to put the game away and they failed on all three. This game was won in the final minutes when Buffalo killed off a five minute major penalty to Clare MacArthur for boarding (I'll have more on that hit after the jump). The Sabres blocked shots, dove for loose pucks and cleared at every opportunity to kill off the penalty. After the great penalty kill, Jochen Hecht scored his second of the season into an empty net to give the Sabres the victory.
Penalty Killing Prevails
It's another two points for the Buffalo Sabres and this is a "W" for the penalty killers. The penalty killing unit has been okay all season and tonight they were outstanding. Ryan Miller made great saves, the defense blocked shots...they just did the little things well. They closed shooting lanes and basically held the Oilers to the oustide and limited their scoring chances.
MacArthur Gets Five and a Game
I felt the officiating was suspect all evening but it was nevr more evident than the play that sent Liam Reddox to the dressing room with an injury and Clarke MacArthur to the dressing room with a five minute major and a game misconduct. The replay clearly shows that both players are going for the puck and Reddox steps in front of MacArthur to gain position.
At some point we have to start putting some blame on the victim and not always on the player that delivered the hit. I remember watching hockey when players prepared themselves for getting hit into the boards, nowadays they put themselves in a vulnerable position and complain that a penalty should be called on the hitter.
It was definitely the wrong call but luckily it didn't affect the outcome of the game. It would have been a shame to see the game decided on a bad call, that was only made because the player did not get up.
Sabres Better 5-on-5
During the last couple of losses the Sabres were outplayed 5-on-5. Even strength play has been the staple of this team in th efirst 10 games and tonight was an indication they might be turning things around. Buffalo scored all their goals while the teams were at even strength although the final tally was with an empty net. This is the trend the Sabres will need to follow to be successful this season.
Harry Neale Quote of the Game
I didn't really notice a quote from Harry but there was a funny exchange between Rob Ray and Rick Jeannerett. It happened just after an Oilers defenseman cleared the puck off the scoreboard.
Ray - Yes it did. It it the right side of the clock.
RJ - I could have swore it hit the wrong side but okay.
The Western Conference contiues to invade the HSBC Arena. The other Alberta team, the Calgary Flames will come to town for Friday night.