Tonight's game looked similar to most this season. The Sabres clearly looked better than they were last season, showing some real offensive flashes. A bounce here and a bounce there, and they just couldn't beat the goalie. The face of that is likely Evander Kane, who has had some wonderful scoring chances (including his goal that was disallowed due to an offsides). It was fitting that he was the player to break the ice for the Sabres on a bullet of a shot from the left boards.
Toronto scored just under a minute and a half into the game, as a Roman Polak shot was deflected wildly by P-A Parenteau. After that, Toronto didn't challenge the Sabres defense all that often. The second period was the most even, as the Sabres held Toronto under five shots in both the first and third.
Kane was buzzing on the ice tonight, getting seven shots, but was just off with many. He got a great opportunity early on a rebound, but was positioned on his off-hand. A weight was certainly lifted off his shoulder when he scored in the last five minutes of regulation. After coming in on the left side he intercepted a failed clear, picked his corner and fired the puck in the net.
Evander Kane ties the game late in the third period pic.twitter.com/Wnv1FBSsiF— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 22, 2015
Take that Damien Cox.
Kane was popular tonight for more than just his goal, getting Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf with a high stick when the defensemen went in for a late hit. Surprisingly neither were issued a penalty.
Phaneuf is bleeding after Evander Kane gets his stick up as Phaneuf is delivering a hit pic.twitter.com/abTyAkMjju— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 22, 2015
Jack Eichel also showed his stuff tonight with this wonderful play, powering his way to the net off a second period faceoff. Even when he doesn't score, Eichel doesn't look like a rookie.
@JeremyWGR pic.twitter.com/ykE3CVi9sI— SabreTalk.com (@SabreTalk) October 22, 2015
The Sabres played in their first 3-on-3 overtime, and boy was it action packed. Kane got on a two-on-one with Ryan O'Reilly, but the pair weren't able to beat Jonathan Bernier. The Leafs had numerous chances late in the extra frame, but time eventually ran out.
My biggest takeaway from the 3-on-3 is how difficult it is to defend. Every move you make is dangerous, and it is so easy to get out of position. Earlier this week off the record coaches discussed making sure these are boring in order to not put their team in poor defensive position, and after tonight I can definitely see that happening. For the fans, it's as nerve racking as it is exciting.
Matt Moulson scored the game winner in the fifth round of the shootout, beating Bernier with a couple stutter steps. Chad Johnson sealed the victory with a save on former Sabres forward Brad Boyes. The victory keeps the Sabres streak of home wins against Toronto in tact, dating back to January 29, 2013.
Bylsma constructing a masterpiece pic.twitter.com/wIort1kRpD— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 21, 2015
Yes he is, yes he is.
1. When are we going to see some offense?
Not tonight. The Sabres were able to create numerous opportunities, outshooting Toronto 35 to 24. However, only Kane could score in regulation for Buffalo.
2. Can the Sabres get a fast start?
It was actually Toronto getting on the board early, beating Chad Johnson in the first five minutes of the game off a crazy deflection.
3. What will Babcock's reception be?
Tonight was Mike Babcock's first regular season game against the Sabres since spurning the Pegulas for the team up north. Not surprisingly Babcock and the rest of the Leafs were met with some boos. It seemed to be a less Toronto heavy crowd than normal, and there were even some empty seats at the game tonight. That's unheard of in recent years against Toronto.