It was their final preseason game, and earlier in the day, Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that the team would field something close to their opening day lineup. True to his word, the Sabres veterans all dressed for last night's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
But for two periods, they didn't fare any better than the team of rookies that were beaten handily by Minnesota on Thursday.
The Sabres gave up the first five goals of the evening and were outshot 21-10 in two periods that didn't have them looking any different, names aside, from the team that finished in last place a year ago. It was an ugly first period - so bad, in fact, that Time Warner Cable mercifully decided to show third-rate football programming in Western New York for the first 30 minutes to save Sabres fans from the pain of watching such a poor start. And you though they were just being incompetent!
Despite the similarities to last year's team the Sabres showed through the first 40 minutes, the last 20 showed just how different this team is. Buffalo mounted a furious comeback, scoring four goals in the first 13 minutes of the third to bring the game back to a one-goal deficit. However, they simply couldn't manage to find that last tying goal, and Columbus added an empty netter for the 6-4 victory.
The third period goals came from Zemgus Girgensons, two from Jamie McGinn, and one from Evander Kane, whom Dan Bylsma called a "bull" after the game thanks to his five shots and seven hits on the night. Robin Lehner, on the other hand, had another very shaky performance, telling reporters after the game that he was fighting the puck. He's had a worrisome preseason, and will need to round in to form sooner rather than later so the Sabres offense doesn't have to score six every night to win.
And with that, the Sabres finish their preseason with a 4-3-0 record. Their season opener will take place on Thursday of next week, home versus the Ottawa Senators. Bring it on.