The first two periods seemed to follow a similar pattern with the Rangers getting the best of the initial exchanges before Buffalo came back into the game later in the period. Despite four minutes of power play in the first, the Sabres were still outshot 12-14.
The breakouts from their own zone remain the Sabres’ Achilles heel, as more than once they invited undue pressure by failing to clear the puck definitively. They maintained their discipline in the first, but when Marcus Foligno got called for a dubious-at-best holding penalty, the Rangers finally took advantage with a power play goal.
Ryan McDonagh shot from the point into a crowd in front of Lehner, and there was little the goalie could do against a deflected puck. New York outshot Buffalo again, 15-10 for a 29-22 advantage.
The third period was a bit more even, with the most eventful moment being a scrap behind the Sabres net when a couple of Rangers went for Rasmus Ristolainen. Buffalo’s power play once again did everything but score, creating some wide open chances but were unable to cash in.
That was until the Sabres had a period of sustained pressure when Cody Franson made some amends for a horrendous performance in Montreal with the tying goal off a rebound. Buffalo got some jump from the goal, but weren’t able to get the second and off to overtime we went, with the Rangers holding the shot advantage 39-35.
The Sabres had no answer for the sheer speed of Mikhail Grabner all game long, and Taylor Fedun overcommitted to one side and hooked Grabner who blew right by him to give the visitors the powerplay with 3 minutes to go in overtime. And it was to be the decider as Chris Kreider scored his second point of the night slotting into an open side just as the power play expired and the Sabres were in disarray after a heroic penalty kill.
1. Can the Sabres defense rally after a truly awful performance against the Canadiens?
Surprisingly, yes. Robin Lehner looked in command of his crease for most of the game and despite (in spite of?) Zach Bogosian going off injured after the first period with a mid-body injury, the Sabres were mostly decent. They still got caught a few times in possession in their own zone, but Lehner was having a decent day and will be frustrated the Sabres couldn’t score more than one.
2. What’s up with that fourth line?
Tyler Ennis was not terrible on this line tonight. Carrier was his usual hustling, bustling self, drawing a penalty in the first period, but that was when he was matched up with Jack Eichel. De-Lo got a whopping 2:46 of ice time - seriously, why are we paying this guy?
3. After the game tonight, how will Sabres fans overreact?
If win: "Hey, you know, they’re only seven points behind Boston, and they’ve got five games in hand. With the team scoring so much more since Eichel came back, and good goaltending, if they can just string together four or five in a row we’ll be right in this thing, baby! Playoffs here we come!" If lose: "FIRE BYLSMA TRADE EVERYBODY GMTM SUCKS LEHNER SUCKS PEGULA SUCKS TAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNKKKKKKKKK"
We didn’t count on the possibility of getting one point, so a reaction of somewhere in between?
Comment of the Game
Two amusing soundbite’s from the NBC crew: "Vesey grinding on Franson," followed shortly afterward by, "Stepan yelling at the top of his voice, ‘Jimmy, I’m coming, I’m coming’." Perhaps they’re watching porn when they should be watching the game.
Posted by SabreKat
Enough said, good night.