After a week of playing uninspired hockey the Sabres finally looked like a playoff contender on Saturday night against the defensing champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The problem is they played better and lost the game. With that game nothing more than a memory there were questions as to which Sabres team would show up tonight.
The game started exactly how the Sabres hoped it would start. They survived an early flurry by the Toronto Maple Leafs and eventually Nathan Paetsch scored his first goal of the season to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead. They held that lead into the locker room after 20 minutes and seemed to be in good position with the shots knotted at 13.
The second period was back to the Sabres team we had seen all of last week. The Leafs took control of the game and scored two
lucky hard working goals. Toronto tied it on a shot from behind the goal line by Viktor Stalberg. Stalberg shot it towards the front of the net and it deflected off of lanky Sabres Defenseman Tyler Myers and into the net. The second goal would be equally as strange as it deflected off the skate on Ian White who had pinched in from the point and drove hard to the net.
The Leafs did an outstanding job of keeping the Sabres off balance by standing them up at the blueline in the third period. They seemed content to hang on to their one goal lead. Jochen Hecht figured out the defense and beat "The Monster" with a backhand to tie the game with just over seven minutes left. Derek Roy eventually scored the winner and the Sabres came away with an undeserved victory.
Explanation of Corsi Numbers chart: There are four categories at the top of the page. 1 - Goals, 2 - saved shots, 3 - missed shots and 4 - blocked shots. There are two columns under each of the top headings. They represent for and against. This is a little bit different than the previous chart we used. There is also a category called Fenwick +/- and that represents the Corsi number minus blocked shots. It is believed by some people that the Fenwick number is a better representation of production.
Quitting is for Losers
After a poor second period and a slow moving third period the Sabres could have easily folded their tent and looked ahead to Wednesday night. Instead they battled hard and some how found a way to get inside the Leafs defense to tie the game on a goal by Jochen Hecht. It looked like they might be playing for a point but in overtime Derek Roy was left all alone in front for the game winning goal.
Waiting in the Wings
Nathan Paetsch has one of the hardest jobs on the entire Sabres team. He is a natural defenseman who spends most of his time watching games from the press box. He has been called into duty to play forward on occasion and tonight was one of those occasions.
The Sabres were without the services of Thomas Vanek (abdominal injury) and Patrick Kaleta (neck injury) and therefore they dressed Nathan Paetsch as a fourth line forward. Paetsch scored his first goal of the season just over six minutes into the game. There was nothing spectacular about the goal but proved that good things happen when you shoot the puck.
Some Slumps End and Some Continue
- Derek Roy has not been too bad as of late but it was still a confidence boosting goal when he scored the overtime winner after being left all alone in front Of Gustavsson. Roy made a nice move and waited until Gustavsson was down and out of position to score the goal. This could possibly be the goal that lifts Roy back to the player he was a season ago.
- It's no surprise that Jochen Hecht is in a slump after watching him play last season. Still it was nice to see him end his slump with a good goal to tie the game. Hecht had not scored a goal since November 30 against the Leafs.
- Tyler Myers continues to be inconsistent. I stop short of saying he is in a slump because he still amazes me with some of the things he does on the ice. He is so fast that he is never out of position and he is calm when he has the puck. It is that calmness however that leads to some nonchalant passes that end up becoming turnovers that head in the other direction.
- The Sabres offense continues to struggle. They scored three goals tonight but most of the night was spent with players shooting wide or directly into the chest of Gustavsson. There are some talented players on the team and they are trying too hard to make the perfect play. They need to score more goals like the Leafs did tonight.