There was plenty to be worried about tonight as the Buffalo Sabres hosted the New York Islanders. Plenty of things that would have caused Sabres teams of old to implode and send the fans home early.
But tonight, every time the Sabres took a punch, they fired back with one of their own, and the final blow came thanks to a Rasmus Ristolainen goal in overtime that sent the fans home cheering in a 3-2 comeback win.
The Sabres came out of the gate sluggish, playing an Islanders team that had just had a game of their own last night. The Sabres were outshot 16-7 in the first period and went into the intermission down 1-0.
The second period saw the team bounce back, pouring 16 shots on Isles goalie Jean-Francois Berube as Johan Larsson tied the game with his fifth of the season. Unfortunately, it was not to last as the Islanders would reclaim the lead thanks to Alan Quine, who put home a power play goal to give NY a 2-1 lead after two, a lead which they had not yet lost in regulation this year.
The Islanders were playing the wrong end of a back-to-back, and the Sabres were on the right end, and that fact was obvious during the third. The Isles faded away as the period went on, getting outshot 12-4 and giving up the tying goal early, courtesy of a Sabres power play and Matt Moulson’s stick, good for Matty Mo’s eighth of the year.
The Sabres would suffer an enormous scare midway through the period, as Johnny Boychuk was called for boarding on Jack Eichel. Buffalo’s franchise player took a nasty spill headfirst into the boards, and was later taken off the ice by concussion spotters.
Luckily, Eichel seemed to be alright, and finished the rest of the game. But after that high ankle sprain, Jack, I don’t think we can take another injury this season. Stay safe out there 15.
The game would eventually make its way to overtime, where a patient pass by Kyle Okposo on an odd-man rush would lead to Rasmus Ristolainen’s second overtime goal in as many weeks.
“I love to play overtime,” deadpanned Ristolainen after the game. And we all love to watch you playing it, good sir.
It should also be noted that Robin Lehner had a strong game in net, making a number of point-blank saves with the game on the line, including two against John Tavares.
The win tonight gives the Sabres a 7-3-2 record in their last 12 games, and the team is moving ever closer to a playoff spot in the packed Eastern Conference. Tomorrow night, they’ll face Cam Ward and the Carolina Hurricanes with a chance to earn two more big points.
1. Will the Sabres continue to give their lines even playing time tonight like they did against LA?
Sort of? Ristolainen led the team yet again with just over 26 minutes, which I suppose is better than 29, while ROR had a hair over 20 minutes, which is better than 22. Not quite as good as they managed their ice time against LA, but overall an improvement. Overtime obviously adds a bit of ice time to everyone’s numbers.
2. How will Kyle Okposo look against his old mates?
Assisting on the game winning goal is pretty nice, but Okposo just played his usual, solid game out there tonight. Two shots, two hits, one assist, and a win.
3. Can the Sabres take advantage of NY’s poor special teams?
Not really. The Sabres gave up a power play goal on NY’s only opportunity. Not great for a unit that continues to be the weakest part of the team at the moment.
Comment of the Game
After the Oilers game in which, when I was watching, Sabres were "losing" 3-0 and stopped watching we "won" 4-0.
As watched 1st period here, 1-0 down….
I’m off out to do Christmas shopping and wedding prep!
You’re welcome in advance everyone! Happy to take one for the team.
Posted by oliby
Thanks mate see you at the Cup parade this summer.