The Buffalo Sabres came in to tonight’s game at MSG in dire straits. They were coming off of two weeks of poor play, and their best player exploded in the locker room at the end of their last game out of frustration. So how would they respond against the NHL’s most potent offense on the road?
With one of their best games of the season.
Everyone wondered how the Sabres would respond to Eichel’s locker room outburst after losing back-to-back games to Boston, and they responded with one of their best opening periods of the season. Buffalo dominated the Rangers, holding them without a shot for almost 10 minutes, while scoring two goals of their own along the way.
Zemgus Girgensons opened the scoring with his fourth of the year thanks to some pretty work in front of the net by he and Brian Gionta. It was a good start for a man who will see more opportunities thanks to the injury to Johan Larsson, and who needs to step his game up to get another contract this summer. The second Buffalo goal would come from Evander Kane, his ninth goal in fifteen games, off of a nice shot-pass from Sam Reinhart, who’s on a nice point streak (eight in seven) of his own.
As great as the first period was, we’ve seen the Sabres strike early and fade late before, so all eyes were on their start in the second. While I wouldn’t call their second stanza excellent - they were outshot by a 15-4 margin - they kept most of the shots to manageable locations and kept their lead at two despite giving up a goal to Nick Holden.
Justin Bailey’s first career NHL goal put the lead back at 3-1, and boy was it a thing of beauty. A strong forecheck by Kane forced a turnover to Bailey in the slot, and after hitting the breaks, he slid a diving shot past Henrik Lundqvist to give the Buffalo native his first goal in blue and gold.
The third period was also a thing of beauty, with the Sabres holding the Rangers shot-less for over 14 minutes en route to the 4-1 victory.
A few players really stood out tonight. Anders Nilsson played strong in the net all night, making a few big saves at the end of the first to hold the lead. Kane and Girgensons both scored a goal and each drew a penalty thanks to being aggressive on the rush. Bailey not only scored his first goal but was a noticeable factor on offense all night. And of course, Eichel made a whole bunch of Eichel plays in addition to his power play goal.
All in all, this was exactly the way you wanted to see the Sabres respond to adversity. Whether they can sustain this level of play over a stretch of games remains to be seen, but this game certainly gave them something to build off of.
1. How will the Sabres respond to their mid-season crisis and Eichel’s locker room explosion?
The Sabres responded as well as any one could have expected them to. They came out firing on all cylinders in the first period, dominating the Rangers for the first ten or so minutes of the game, and leaving the first period with a 2-0 lead.
And even better than that, they didn’t let their foot off the gas for the rest of the game. Yes, they were badly outshot in the second period, but they made the plays necessary to keep most of their lead, and then came back with a very strong third period when it would have been easy to turtle for the final 20 minutes. This was a great team effort tonight.
2. How many power play goals will the Rangers score tonight?
None! 2017 is going to be the best year ever!
3. Which of the new lines and pairings will click tonight, and which won’t?
Most of them, to be honest. The third line had two goals with Kane and Girgensons, while Eichel scored on the first and Bailey scored on the second. Heck, even the defense looked good, with Fedun filling in more than admirably for the injured Gorges.
Comment of the Game
We….looked like we were trying to do that….
Set up that play.
Like we practiced or something…
Like we were coached….
Posted by podunkowego