Tonight was another loss for the Buffalo Sabres, something we've seen plenty of over the past two seasons. But tonight also featured something we haven't seen in almost a decade - the Sabres poured a whopping 53 shots on net, a number they hadn't matched since 2007. Unfortunately, it was all for naught, as the Sabres ultimately fell to the Penguins 4-3.
The start of this game looked mighty familiar for anyone who's watched the Sabres over the past two season - Pittsburgh dominated possession, the Sabres were chasing their own tails for the first ten minutes, and Buffalo found themselves down 2-0 midway through the first period. Unlike last season, however, the Sabres staged a furious comeback over the next five minutes, getting goals from Jamie McGinn and Nicolas Deslauriers amidst a frenzy of possession to end the period tied at two.
The second period would start in much the same way as the Penguins scored the next two goals, but ultimately would not be as kind to the Sabres. Sidney Crosby put on a possession clinic in the period, and Evgeni Malkin added a power play goal after a Mike Weber penalty to give the Penguins their game winning fourth goal.
Buffalo poured it on in the third period, putting up 24 shots, and did come away with one late goal thanks to
Ryan O'Reilly as the extra attacker - this goal was later credited to Matt Moulson - but even with a late 6-on-4 power play they couldn't find the equalizer in the loss.
There were two problems with Buffalo's performance tonight. First of all, Chad Johnson was not good, giving up big rebounds all night and a really soft goal in the first minute of the game. After a strong start to the season, we're starting to see why he's been a career backup. Second, many of the Sabres shots were simply shots for the sake of shooting - Pittsburgh backup Jeff Zatkoff made 50 saves, but wasn't even named one of the game's three stars thanks to many of those shots being weak efforts with no real threat.
Still, it was nice to see the Sabres control the play so effectively for much of the game. Their process is right, folks, and eventually their abysmal shooting percentage will start to regress toward the mean, and we'll see some big numbers up on the scoreboard. Even in another loss, you have to admit this team is far more competitive than anything we saw last season.
1. What will the reception for Dan Bylsma be like?
2. Wait, the lines are actually staying the same?
Well, no, because Tyler Ennis didn't make it out for warmups and was replaced by Tim Schaller. But at least one of the combos from their last game paid off, as O'Reilly and Deslauriers had a sweet connection in the first.
Comment of the Game
This turn of phrase really turned my night around *dies*