After the first game of the season, the Buffalo Sabres had many of their fans worried thanks to a lackluster effort on offense, some glaring mistakes on defense, and goaltending that didn’t rise to the occasion.
Last night’s 6-2 drubbing of the Edmonton Oilers should put many of those concerns to rest, at least for a day.
The Sabres offense was clicking last night, in large part thanks to the duo of Ryan O’Reilly and newcomer Kyle Okposo. Playing in his first game as a Sabres, Okposo opened the scoring 2:37 into the first period, assisted by O’Reilly and Sam Reinhart, who has points in two straight. Okposo would add his first assist as a Sabres on O’Reilly power play goal later in the first.
But KO wasn’t the only Sabre to find his name on the score sheet multiple times. O’Reilly had a career-best four points (2+2) including a hilarious center-ice goal, while Brian Gionta also scored twice and Rasmus Ristolainen notched three assists in the victory. Heck, even Matt Moulson had a power play goal for the second straight game.
Dan Bylsma was as happy a the Sabres fanbase after the game, saying, “Looking back at the Montreal game, no question we were out of sorts a bit right from the start of that game. I don't think we had it at any time in that game. Tonight was completely, completely different mentality, completely different focus from our team … I thought we played a smart game and a heads up game. That's how the Buffalo Sabres need to play.”
Bylsma must have also been happy with the performance of the reunited Foligno-Larsson-Gionta line, who put two goals on the board and held the red-hot Connor McDavid without a point after the young stud put up six in his first two games.
It was a good team win, including a nice bounce back effort from Robin Lehner, who made 31 saves. The two goals came on odd-man rushes, and after giving those two up to close the first period, Lehner stone-walled the Oilers for the next 40 minutes.
The loss will go down in history as the first-ever loss for the Oilers in the new Rogers Place, and the victory pulls the Sabres back to even on the season.
1 - Will anyone get hurt tonight?
No, thank goodness.
2 - Will Connor McDavid make us feel bad about ourselves?
Also no, also thank goodness.
3 - How will the new guys look in their regular season Sabres debuts?
Kyle Okposo looked great tonight, putting up his first two points of the season. Kulikov struggled a bit more, going -2 on the evening, the only defenseman to do so. He was involved in both odd-man rushes against, and got burned on the second Oilers goal.
Comment of the Game
The house that approximately two-thousand #1 draft picks built.