The effort was better, though the stats might not show it. Just a few days after a horrendous outing against the Leafs, the Buffalo Sabres came out with a solid showing (we won't go so far as to call it strong) tonight against an admittedly depleted Boston Bruins. Though it only resulted in an OT loss, tonight was a positive step in a few different areas for the Sabres.
The game started with a bang, as Chris Stewart challenged Milan Lucic (!) to a fight less than a minute in - both players got their fair share of bombs in, but the scrap was a sign of things to come for Stewart, who was all over the ice in the first period. The same could not be said of his teammates, however, as the Sabres did little more than hold serve against the depleted Bruins lineup in the first.
As the second period neared its dreary midway point, the Sabres finally got a chance to liven things up with a power play, where they were previously 0-33 on the season. Naturally, Drew Stafford picked a good time to score his first goal of the season, and the Sabres snapped their 0-fer streak on the power play on their 34th chance.
Buffalo would score the second goal of the game as well...only Mike Weber put it into his own net, as he deflected an Adam McQuaid shot past Jhonas Enroth to tie the game. Things were looking bleak toward the end of the second, as the Sabres had just one measly shot the entire period, but a slick pass from Torrey Mitchell coming out of the box to Tyler Ennis found the Sabres back on top 2-1.
The third period, like so many of them this season, would be all Boston all the time, as the Bruins took a 14-3 (at the time) advantage in shots and turned that into a tie game thanks to a deflection by the lovable Brad Marchand. The Sabres would earn one point for getting to overtime, but that's where they're luck would end, as a loooong shift in their own zone resulted in the most wide-open Brad Marchand ever, who ripped the winner over the shoulder of Jhonas Enroth.
"I don't care how tired you are," said Ted Nolan, "You've got to know where to go on the ice." The Bruins managed to sneak a few changes in while keeping the Sabres hemmed into their own zone, and would eventually take advantage of the exhausted defenders.
For his part, Jhonas Enroth gave the Sabres another strong effort in net, especially in the third period, finishing with 34 saves. His two goals against were both deflections, one off Weber and one Marchand, which is a rough way to go down, but he continued to look sharp all night, and is consistently one of the best players on the ice for the over matched Sabres.
1. It's Sam Reinhart's ninth game - will he do something to help us remember him during the long winter while he's back in juniors?
Nope, and he never really had a chance. Reinhart only played 1:36 in the first period, and finished with 7:45 total TOI. After the game, Nolan said he'd have to talk with Tim Murray about the fate of Reinhart, but it's almost a certainty that the young center will be sent back to Kootenay. So long Sam, it's been good to know ya. Now go bulk up and work on your skating like crazy this offseason, and we'll see you next September.
2. Will Cody Hodgson's demotion to the fourth line motivate him to get his rear in gear? And will Torrey Mitchell's continued promotions be justified?
Hodgson did almost nothing on the ice for the Sabres in his limited time on the fourth line. No points, no hits, one lone shot, and just two faceoffs, which he won. I didn't necessarily notice him too much during his 8:46 on the ice.
As for Mitchell, he had a beauty of a pass in the second period after he snuck out of the penalty box, scooped up a loose puck, and gave Tyler Ennis the dish to put the Sabres up 2-1. I thought Mitchell played fairly well all night, as he was one of the few Sabres players I noticed consistently throughout the game.
3. Can the Sabres take advantage of a very injured Boston blue line?
The Sabres scored two goals, which doubled the number of goals they scored in all previous home games this season, but it's tough to do more than that when you only get 15 shots on net. Woof.
Comment of the Game
I am so sorry I won't be able to join you tonight.