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Recap: Sabres close out 2016 with a whimper, losing 3-1 to Boston

A slow start and weak goals doomed the Sabres in their final game this year against the Bruins.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Boston Bruins Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

A few days ago, Sabres fans were looking at these two games against Boston as a way to really get the Sabres into playoff contention. But for the first time in NHL history, the Bruins have swept their season series with the Sabres, and Buffalo now closes 2016 the same way they entered it - on the outside looking in.

This game started exactly the opposite of their last game against the Bruins. Instead of scoring a quick first goal, the Sabres allowed one, thanks to Frank Vatrano who put a shot past Lehner, a shot Lehner probably should have stopped.

The period would from bad to worse when Johan Larsson was hammered into the boards, fell awkwardly against his shoulder, and went to the locker room, never to return (this game.) Josh Gorges also spent quite a bit of time in the locker room. Hopefully we’ll hear some good news about them later this week.

The second period wouldn’t get any better, as Boston would put in two more goals - a power play tally from Patrice Bergeron that was the result of some missed clearing chances, and a weak backhand from Tim Schaller that Lehner let sneak through on the short side.

The Schaller goal definitely should have been stopped, and Lehner knew it, hanging his head after letting it through. He would rebound after letting in the third goal, finishing with 25 saves on 28 shots, but the damage had already been done.

Buffalo finally got on the board midway through the third period. A nice bit of passing from Okposo to Reinhart to Ristolainen eventually made its way to Jack Eichel, who ripped a slap shot past Rask to get the score to 3-1, where it would stay.

With this second loss to the Bruins, the Sabres now sit 10 games back of the third-place Bruins, and barring them turning into the Blue Jackets for the rest of the year, the Sabres are now all but out of playoff contention.

Happy new year, folks. Here’s to 2017.

Two Questions

1. Will Justin Bailey play anywhere but the fourth line?

We did see Bailey play up, partly thanks to a short bench, but he brought a welcome dose of speed and intensity to a Sabres team that looked hungover most of the game.

2. Can the Sabres find any kind of sustained, period-to-period stretch of good play?

Maybe in 2017.

Comment of the Game

Not too bad aside from the bad start and the weak goal.

Posted by lgbfromoregon

Except for all the goals against and stretches of bad play, this was pretty good!