If you had to sum up the 2015-16 Buffalo Sabres in one sentence, it might be "They could not score." If you're not Ryan O'Reilly, Jack Eichel or playing on a line with one of the two, you're probably not scoring. Tonight was another one of those nights.
The Florida Panthers looked like a first place team in a 5-1 victory against the Sabres, extending the Panthers' winning streak to ten games and the Sabres' losing streak to five.
Florida ended the game on a four-goal streak (including an empty-netter) after O'Reilly tied the game at one early in the second.
Linus Ullmark gave up four goals for the third time this season. I don't think he's a lost cause. There are certainly things that make him very appealing, and I haven't given up on him as a legitimate goalie of the future option. He was the SHL Goalie of the Year for a reason.
That being said, it's clear he still needs a bit more time to develop in Rochester. The Panthers second goal, scored by Derek MacKenzie, was a pretty straight-forward shot on his glove side. Jonathan Huberdeau made him look silly on his breakaway goal to make it 4-1, fooling him completely with a deke. When he makes the first save, he often needs the Sabres to clear the puck for him to get back into position.
Ullmark has lost his last four starts, but he hasn't exactly gotten goal support. The Sabres have scored a combined two goals in those four outings.
There may have been a discussion at one point about the backup spot, but not anymore. When Robin Lehner returns from his conditioning stint, Chad Johnson will be the Sabres' backup and Ullmark will be Rochester's starting goalie.
He wasn't alone when it came to miscues tonight. Sam Reinhart got caught flat-footed on the Jagr goal, causing a 3-on-2. Carlo Colaiacovo was caught on a bad pinch on MacKenzie's goal. An errant shot by Evander Kane helped spring Huberdeau, who blew right past Zach Bogosian. The Sabres just couldn't keep up.
Roberto Luongo continued his dominance against the Sabres, allowing a goal to Buffalo for the first time since 2006. He'd shut the Sabres out the past three opportunities.
It wasn't all bad tonight. O'Reilly got the Sabres on the board with one of the prettiest goals you'll see all year. Eichel sent a no-look pass O'Reilly's way, allowing the bearded wonder to score his 16th of the season on the powerplay.
Eichel to ROR, tie game pic.twitter.com/GEZCzwDsWq— Stephanie (@myregularface) January 6, 2016
Watch it. Now watch it again. Watch it as long as you'd like. I'll see you next week. Whenever anyone complains about last year, show them this. Try not to cry.
Also, the Colorado Avalanche traded a 24-year-old Ryan O'Reilly.
Eichel has 13 goals and 13 assists this year and has 12 points in his last eight games.
The Sabres are still far from the 0-14 January they had last season, but an 0-2 start isn't the best. With Chicago next, it's safe to say the odds are that moves to 0-3 on Friday. Columbus lost to Minnesota tonight, keeping the Sabres at 29th... for now.
1. Can the Panthers stay hot?
2. Will the Sabres get a good look at Jaromir Jagr's dominance?
Jagr scored the first goal of the night, his 14th of the season, tying Brett Hull for third all-time in goals. He now has 736 in his over 1,500 game NHL career.
3. Can Tim Schaller make an impact in his first game in Buffalo?
The fourth line actually had a really nice night. The trio of Legwand,Schaller and Foligno got decent time in the offensive zone and drew multiple penalties. Schaller had a handful of opportunities to score, but couldn't notch the second goal of his career.