On Friday night at the KeyBank Center it seemed that the puck gods had deserted the Buffalo Sabres. Shots hit the pipe, bounces went awry, pucks fell short, and the home team lost 4-1. Tonight, karma came full circle and Buffalo got plenty of puck luck and took advantage to beat the Los Angeles Kings 6-3.
In an unimpressive first period, Robin Lehner gave up an early soft goal off Anze Kopitar, backing into the net with the puck trapped under him. The Kings had the edge in shots 13-10 at the break and the Sabres looked dull and uninspired.
The second period was no better, and fans in the arena hoping for a strong response would be disappointed. Seven and a half minutes in Jeff Carter skated in all alone and nailed his breakaway - 2-0 and it looked like game over.
And then, out of nowhere, Ryan O’Reilly just took the team on his shoulders and started off - he held the puck behind the net, and then circling onto his backhand side, drove patiently around until he could let off a nifty backhand that clanged off the pipe and in with just over ten minutes to go.
With 6:22 to play, Jack Eichel then joined the act, sneaking in a surprise wrister from the blue line with Kyle Okposo screening goalie Peter Budaj and the game was tied. In the immediate next shift with the ‘FLaG’ line on the ice, captain Brian Gionta had a fortunate deflection off a Justin Falk shot that went in and now Buffalo lead 3-2.
The Kings pulled Budaj and replaced him with Jeff Zatkoff and yet the Sabres were not quite done, scoring their fourth goal in a 6 min 17 sec period. Eichel found himself free between the circles and cranked in his second of the night, again off the goalpost. We’ve seen nights like this where Buffalo doesn’t get a single one of those four goals.
Two goal lead after two periods, what could go wrong? Well, for one, LA refused to go away quietly and Carter got his second of the night through traffic. One goal game, and you could see the worried crowd.
Have no fear though, Eichel combined with Ox to get Evander Kane a tap-in to put the Sabres back up by two. The remaining four minutes were much more palatable at that point, and Buffalo finally got an empty-netter too, with Sam Reinhart getting the cherry on top.
1. Will new lines generate new offense?
The two top lines combined for five goals and eleven points, so we’ll say yes, yes indeed. Two of those points were from Matt Moulson stepping in for Evander Kane (who was relegated to the fourth line for a spell) on the Eichel line, so more tinkering ahead?
2. Who will be the more physical team tonight?
Dead even at 35 hits each. In fact, they were dead even in the faceoff circle as well.
3. Can the Sabres continue their dominance of the Pacific Division?
No idea how this keeps happening, but the Sabres are now up to 12-0-3(!!) in their last 15 games against the Pacific.
Comment of the Game
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I have a big KvC problem this game.
Kitchen: 0:45 of game time, 2-0 Kings
Couch: 47:00 of game time, 4-1 Buffalo.
Sorry, guys. I gotta work on my kitchen kill.
Posted by longsufferer