There were plenty of built in excuses for the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night. Playing without two of their top scorers, three of the players were up from the AHL and have played a total of eight games in the NHL this season, they were on the road, they were playing a desperate team or better yet, they were on the road against a desperate team. None of those excuses were necessary tonight because the Sabres got some good bounces and did just enough to win.
You probably won't see many clips from tonights game on many highlight films but the Sabres will be traveling home a happy group. Buffalo fell behind early but a heads-up play by Tyler Myers tied the score. Myers was attempting to keep the puck in at the blueline and elected to put the puck on the net. It traveled under the arm of Dennis Wideman and into the top corner by an unsuspecting Tim Thomas.
The Sabres added to that lead just minutes later on another heads-up play, this time by Paul Gaustad. Thomas made a save on a shot from Myers and Gaustad immediately to a backhand that deflected off of Wideman and into the net.
Despite the one goal lead the Sabres didn't immediately go into a defensive shell. In fact they played their best hockey in the second period. The shots on goal were 14-14 in the second but the Sabres seemed to be the better team and they got the only goal. A nice play at the blueline by Stafford started the rush and Tim Kennedy's shot somehow crossed the goal line.
With a two goal lead the Sabres seemed to sit back and allowed the Bruins to dictate play in the third. The Bruins scored with over five minutes left creating some anxious moments for Sabres fans as the clock finally struck zero. It wasn't a thing of beauty but it was the perfect road win for a team that has played well in recent weeks.
- We were all hoping to see some offense from one of the three youngsters up from Portland but they were all relatively quiet in this game. Ennis had a couple of nice opportunities and Gerbe does a good job battling in the corners for a player that is 5'6" but overall they were mostly invisible.
- This was a great road win but the Sabres will be thinking about the missed opportunities, especially the breakaways by Derek Roy and Jason Pominville. Rask played both well but you would hope that you could score at least once on two breakaway chances.
- The Sabres dodged an early bullet when Ryan Miller stopped Marco Sturm on a penalty shot. The initial call came after a weak hook by Craig Rivet but Sturm followed up with a weak attempt on the penalty shot.
- I am usually the first to defend the Versus telecast but there is no excuse for getting a players name wrong for 57 minutes of a 60 minute game. I can sympathize with Joe Beninatti because I have done play-by-play myself the last three years but I can not understand how nobody else (color commentator or production crew) caught the mistake and corrected it earlier.
- I know Patrice Bergeron did not try to hit Derek Roy in the face but that was a bush league play to try to shoot the puck in the net after the final horn had blown. It was obvious he knew the clock had expired because he just flipped the puck towards the net and it struck Derek Roy in the face. Roy appeared to be okay or I would think the Sabres would have looked for retribution.