After losing their first preseason game in heartbreaking fashion (if we even have hearts to break in September) the Buffalo Sabres won their second preseason game in thrilling fashion, thanks to a late tying goal and an overtime winner from the blueline.
The game began slowly, with both teams playing it safe and feeling each other (and themsevles - it’s preseason) out for the first 30 minutes. It was a fairly stoic affair, though Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons were both noticed early and often, which is a good sign for two embattled players.
Things heated up in the second period when Ottawa opened the scoring thanks to a crazy deflection off a point shot that was eventually credited to Buffalo favorite Chris Neil. Thankfully, Nicholas Baptiste evened the game three minutes later off a nice deflection on a Derek Grant pass/shot.
The third period opened with Derick Brassard taking the lead back just 25 seconds in, but the aforementioned Derek Grant (an AHL All-Star last year) evened things up with five minutes left.
Even though we didn’t have RJ on the call, this game went to ooooooovertiiiiiiiiiiime, where Jake McCabe fired home a pass from Grant for the Buffalo victory. Here we go now, indeed.
McCabe had a very nice game in his own right, but the real hero tonight was Derek Grant, who ended the game with three points, scoring or assisting on each of the Sabres three goals. The NHL club has one empty forward spot to fill, and the 26-year old Grant scored 27 goals and 45 points last year in the AHL, and is making his case to spend more time in the big leagues tonight.
One of the biggest stories to come out of tonight’s game was the first start for Robin Lehner - the goalie who lost “Somewhere between 20 and 30 pounds,” this offseason according to the TSN broadcast. It was a very encouraging first game for the Sabres #1 goaltender - he was moving really well post-to-post and was constantly in position to make the save. One of the two goals against him was a crazy deflection off a helmet and/or stick, and in the end Lehner made 37 saves on 39 stops. It’s a nice start for a guy who will maybe have the biggest impact on the Sabres season of anyone.
The Sabres are now 1-1 on the preseason, and will play again on Thursday night, at Toronto.