The Buffalo Sabres a while to get going in this afternoon game against the Minnesota Wild. They had just four shots in the first period, and allowed a wacky, bouncing-off-legs goal just two minutes in to the game. Many times over the past few seasons, we've seen the team fold under such circumstances, but today the Sabres fought back.
Buffalo would take advantage of a double minor penalty on a high stick to the face of Jake McCabe, scoring twice on the ensuing power play - one from Johan Larsson and the other a beauty from Jack Eichel on a sweet feed from Sam Reinhart.
But despite their flurry in the second, Minnesota would tie the game in the third period and would ultimately win 3-2 in the shootout.
The Sabres sent out Eichel first in the shootout, coming off of his two point effort today, and the 19-year old scored his first career shootout goal, the Sabres only tally of the over-overtime competition. Robin Lehner let in shootout goals from Charlie Coyle - check out his hands on this shootout attempt, yowza - and our old friend Jason Pominville, who would seal the deal with his patented "skate in slowly and somehow find the hole on a wrist shot" move.
Lehner played well again tonight, letting in just two goals on 30 shots, and one of those ping-ponged off the side of the net and Ristolainen's skate before going in. The Sabres #1 netminder is currently leading the NHL in save percentage among goalies with more than 15 games this season.
The Sabres had a few chances to increase their lead, many of them coming from the top line, but all unsuccessful. This was not Evander Kane's best outing, as he missed a few great chances including a tap-in to an open net off of a 2-on-1 with Eichel. He led the Sabres with five shots, but his lack of finish tonight cost the team an extra point.
Interestingly enough, the pairing of Zach Bogosian and Jake McCabe led the team in ice time tonight with over 25 minutes each - Rasmus Ristolainen finished third in that department. I didn't think Risto played poorly, but this is one of the few times he hasn't led the Sabres in ice time this season.
With the loss, the Sabres end their homestand, and will travel to Toronto on Monday to play the Leafs.