Sometimes a game between two bad hockey teams can be fun. Like a movie that's so bad it's good, or a guilty pleasure, when two teams have an almost equal dearth o talent, you can get some pretty entertaining hockey. Of course, you can also just get some bad, boring, sloppy hockey, and we saw example of both last night as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in a battle between the two worst teams in the league.
The first period was a back-and-forth affair, but began about as bad as it could have for Sabres fans - the backup goalie who couldn't buy a win if he tried let in a soft, soft goal just 30 seconds into the game. However, despite the here-we-go-agains and LOLs ringing throughout the Twittersphere, the Sabres actually managed to put on a very respectable, and dare we say entertaining first period. The sloppiness of both teams resulted in more chances than usual, and Buffalo scored twice - once as Steve Ott squeaked a shot through Bryzgalov's pads off of a Tyler Myers feed, and another when Drew Stafford rifled home a shorthanded goal - their fourth shortie in the past five games and fifth overall. It was, an in all, a pretty darn entertaining period.
For as much fun as a sloppy hockey game can be, it can also be, uh, very sloppy. The second period was less end-to-end and more of a free floating, no defense, penalty-filled pond hockey period that saw the Sabres bring their two period shot total to 30, which I still can't believe even as I type it. Justin Schultz tied the game late in the period when he sniped a wrist shot off the post and past Jhonas Enroth, who did not come out to challenge the shooter. The other big news from the second was Tyler Myers suffering a lower body injury midway through the period which would keep him out for the remainder of the game. Ted Nolan would later say he was a little concerned, but wouldn't elaborate on what the scuttlebutt was calling a knee injury.
The Oilers would take the lead in the first minute of the third thanks to a Matt Hendricks breakaway goal - the kind of goal you expect Ryan Miller to save, but Jhonas Enroth wasn't able to rise to the challenge. There was a bit of controversy mid-way through the period, as the ol' "Intent To Blow" rule reared its ugly head on an early whistle that wipes away what would have been a tying Sabres goal. Neither Steve Ott nor Ted Nolan were very happy about it after the game, but both gave the "It's just one of those things" excuse, which I suppose it is.
The Sabres put up a valiant effort, including a season-high 44 shots, but were sunk by a combination of taking too many penalties, not capitalizing enough on their six power plays, and Bryzgalov being on his game. However, with their loss to the second-worst team last night, Buffalo's chance to finish with the worst record in the league went up by 14%, according to sportsclubstats.com, reaching 85%. While you may not be able to root for the to lose, friends, last night's game was one of the most important losses of the season.
2. Can Linus Omark take advantage of his sudden promotion?
Omark's line finished with a few nice chances, and he threw three shots on net, but it all resulted in nada.
3. How will the Sabres respond to their 7-1 drubbing by the Avalanche?
Buffalo came out with a much better effort tonight. While they allowed a soft goal early on, they were buzzing around the Edmonton net all period, scord two goals (including a shortie) and won the shot battle 13-12. One of the better first periods we've seen them play lately.
1. Matt Hendricks - scored the game winner
2. Drew Stafford - scored
3. Ilya Bryzgalov - turned away 42 of 44 shots
Comment of the Game
That's right Edmonton, we do play your AHL castoffs on our top line!!
You gotta do what you gotta do, said The Tank.
WTF of the Game
This guy, who sat behind the Sabres bench and apparently brought two different masks to the game.
What is that black face mask behind the Sabres bench? pic.twitter.com/MbGQJZrlk5— M. (@MKriegbaumJr) February 4, 2014