No team needed the All Star Break quite like the Buffalo Sabres - losers of eleven straight and sitting in the NHL's basement, they sorely needed to get away from hockey, refocus, and come back with a strong effort to kick off the second part o the season.
Instead, what we saw in their first game back looked exactly like it did before the break, and the Sabres lost their twelfth straight game last night to the Calgary Flames by a 4-1 final.
Of all the ways the Sabres have lost during this streak - blowouts, snoozers, last-minute gut punches - the most popular way seems to be by utilizing the "two good periods, one horrible period" strategy. At the end of the second period last night, the game was tied 1-1, both teams had fired 16 shots on net, each team had taken two penalties, and Chris Stewart and Johnny Geaudreau each scored first period power play goals. It was as even a stat line as you'll ever see.
But things all went to hell in the third period, as they tend to do with this team. The Flames outshot the Sabres 15-2, scored three goals as a result, and it never really felt like the Sabres had a chance one the final stanza had begun. An early Tyler Ennis penalty put them behind the eight ball right away, and while Calgary wouldn't score on the power play, they never gave up the momentum.
The Sabres will get a thirteenth chance to win a hockey game on Thursday against....Edmonton. Big game, people.
1. How will the Sabres look coming off of their eight day rest?
Good, for a bit. But their third period woes were not cured by their time off, it appears.
2. Can the return of Brian Gionta give the forward group a lift?
Gionta did manage to put two shots on net in almost 15 minutes of ice time, but he wasn't too much a significant factor out there.
3. Which All-Star will play best tonight?
Johnny Gaudreau scored two goals to easily win this contest.
Comment of the Game
I like how Hodgson is looking to shoot.