It’s only been once in a blue moon that the Buffalo Sabres get to comprehensively outshoot and beat an NHL team. You can almost make the argument that the Colorado Avalanche are barely an NHL team too, but the Sabres tonight outworked and deservedly beat the Avs 2-0 with Robin Lehner getting another shutout.
Surprisingly, Colorado started the first period strong, and were the better side for the first half of it, until they started taking penalties. Buffalo had three power plays in the first period and had the shot advantage 12-7, but somehow were not on the scoresheet.
Justin Bailey has been one of the better players on the Sabres since his latest call-up from Rochester, and drew a penalty in the first with his work rate. Jack Eichel looked good today too, and got hooked to get a powerplay right at the end of the period.
Buffalo then scored on the fresh ice as they started with the man advantage in the second period, with Sam Reinhart shoving in a rebound after Calvin Pickard had foiled a blast from Rasmus Ristolainen. A shout out to Pickard by the way, he was excellent keeping the home team at bay, and even when Zach Bogosian beat him the post came to the rescue.
Derek Grant left the second period with a shoulder injury, still looking for his first NHL goal. Despite the Avs not taking any more penalties, they were overwhelmed in the shot count 12-4 by Buffalo.
The beginning of the third period did not bode well for the Sabres, who had let Colorado hang around all game long. However, they finally showed some maturity in the last few minutes of the game, with Eichel combining well with Evander Kane and the sniper put the game away with just under five minutes to play.
Lehner survived some heart-stopping moments in the end, but hung in there to get the shutout, and it wasn’t of the ‘Ryan Miller variety’ either.
1. How will all the pieces in the O’Reilly trade fare against the old mates?
Ryan O’Reilly played 25 plus minutes, the most of any forward on ice, got a power play assist, two takeaways and won 53% of his faceoffs, a pretty tidy return. Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov were decent, and aside from a couple of plays here and there didn’t necessarily shine.
2. Will Evander Kane play?
Kane played, and played well too. He was his usual boisterous self, had four shots and one hit in his twenty-plus minutes, and put the cherry on top with a nifty move to score his goal.
3. Can the Sabres take care of business in a game they should win?
Yes. It wasn’t as neat and tidy as it should have been, with all the chances they created they should have had a half-dozen goals at least. But they hung in there, outshot and outworked Colorado and deserved to win.
Comment of the Game
By popular opinion -
When did we trade post?
Posted by drwho62
Honorable mention, and a nod to these apocalyptic days -
"It’s a foot race won by Josh Gorges" – things said in the moments before the actual end of the universe.
Posted by B.Chalks