On most vacations, when travelling with their parents, children are expected to be on their best behavior. With moms and dads in tow for this road trip, the Buffalo Sabres were anything but polite last night, brawling with the Arizona Coyotes after the final whistle in their 2-1 victory.
It all started with the two teams in your typical final whistle "every grab somebody" pose, until Zach Bogosian took a shot at Anthony Duclair, and upon receiving a shot in return, threw his gloves down and started throwing haymakers at Anthony Duclair. The testosterone would spill over to Rasmus Ristolainen, who decided to get into a literal representation of a Norris Trophy battle with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and as soon as the Sabres saw their star defenseman in trouble, everyone ran over and threw themselves onto the pile.
The refs finally separated the participants, and Sabres fans were rewarded with so many good little moments in the aftermath, as seen in the video below. Bogosian with a big smile as he helped direct OEL back to the Arizona bench. Old man Brian Gionta sitting on top of the boards, simply enjoying enjoying the fun. Sam Reinhart wondering how in the heck he's going to clean up the mess of gloves and sticks on the ice.
The result of all this? Among the smaller penalties, we had misconduct penalties for Shane Doan, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ristolainen, and Vermette, and a game misconduct on Bogosian for starting the whole thing. No instigator penalties, so no automatic suspensions, but the NHL will likely hand out some fines, at least, for the post-whistle activity. Check the video of the get-together below:
The hugging and punching session after the game was a nice team building moment, but there was also an entire hockey game that came before it. This hockey game got off to a slow start, until Jack Eichel decided to make his presence felt in the second period.
The Sabres had five seconds left on a two man advantage, and on the faceoff, it was clear that the plan was to draw it back to Ristolainen, and pass over to Eichel for the one-timer. It was even more obvious when the left-handed Ryan O'Reilly was thrown from the circle and the right-handed Sam Reinhart stepped in, forcing Ristolainen to switch sides as well. Everyone knew what was going to happen, including Arizona...and it happened anyway. 1-0 Sabres.
Eichel would be the primary contributor to the game winner as well, putting a perfect pass on Jamie McGinn's stick, who was camped out in front of the net on the power play and slid it home to put the Sabres up 2-0. Arizona would add a third period goal by Antoine Vermette, but Chad Johnson would hold strong at the end, stopping 26 of 27 shots to seal the win.
Aside from the post-whistle festivities, the story of this game was written on special teams. Both Buffalo goals came with some number of man advantage, while Arizona went 0-for-5 on their own power play, including a four minute minor thanks to some blood on a Jake McCabe high stick. Evander Kane missed a penalty shot, but aside from that, it was pretty much a flawless night for the Sabres special teams.
Buffalo has now won four out of their last five games, and will attempt to extend that streak against the Avalanche on Wednesday night.
1. How will the Sabres follow up a dominant performance against Washington?
While they weren't dominant last night, the Sabres capitalized on their chances, going 2/3 on the power play while holding Arizona down on the penalty kill.
2. Will Varone be able to keep up with Eichel on the second line?
Alas, Phil's time on the second line was not to be, as he was quickly demoted to the fourth line and played just over six minutes last night.
Comment of the Game
The Sabres are starting Chad Johnson, a twin, against Arizona.
The truth is out there.