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Recap: No miraculous comeback tonight for the Sabres

Ducks prove tougher to hunt than Sharks.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Buffalo Sabres
Jack Eichel
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

There was going to be no late flurry from the Buffalo Sabres tonight as they were comprehensively outplayed by the visiting Anaheim Ducks tonight. Corey Perry scored twice as the Sabres could only muster 26 shots, with goals for Jack Eichel and Rasmus Ristolainen.

Evander Kane played despite being a gametime decision, lining up alongside Jack Eichel and Marcus Foligno. He took the only penalty of the first period for a holding call, which the Sabres killed off.

Robin Lehner looked focused early as the Sabres started slow, making a couple of good saves early. There weren’t any real chances to speak of and it looked like Buffalo were just coasting to the end of the period, willing the clock to run down when Corey Perry burned them, scoring with just a couple of seconds to go in the period.

The Ducks outshot Buffalo 15-11 in the first, and there was a bit of drama to start the second as Jonathan Bernier came onto the ice instead of John Gibson who had started the game. However, it was just a skate maintenance issue and he was soon back in between the pipes.

A minute later the Sabres were even, with Jack Eichel banging he puck home of a nicely orchestrated move off the powerplay. Ryan O’Reilly won the face-off to the left of the goal, the puck came to Kyle Okposo who tipped onto a waiting Eichel to score.

There was little else to talk about in the period, with Anaheim again outshooting the hosts, 14-7 this time, the bulk of which came from the outside and Lehner safely snagged them all.

The visitors then started the third period with a jump in their step. Less than a minute in, Perry set up Richard Rakell for a goal to put the Ducks up. The Sabres continued to play uninspired hockey and then O’Reilly took an unnecessary penalty high-sticking Ryan Getzlaf.

The ref called for four minutes after the Ducks captain skated back out onto the ice to show him the mess his face was in, though it was hard to say that the cut had worsened his looks. Anaheim didn’t even need the second minor, as Antoine Vermette scored with a nifty deflection just twenty seconds into the first penalty and the Sabres then killed off the second.

3-1 down to the stingiest third period team in hockey was not a good situation to be in for Buffalo, and they promptly remedied that by letting Perry glide in wide open through the backdoor and score.

Buffalo had performed a miraculous comeback just a couple of days ago from three goals down in the third period against another West Coast opponent, but the Sabres do not hold the same juju over Anaheim that they do on San Jose. The fans’ exodus after the fourth goal showed their lack of belief in Dan Byslma’s team, and indeed there was no cardiac kids replay tonight.

Rasmus Ristolainen scored with a backhand from the dot with under two to play, but the Ducks then made it 5-2 with Cogliano chipping into an empty net and it was all very definitely over. O’Reilly fought the puck all game long, and turned it over multiple times, including on the last goal.

Three Questions

1. Will Evander Kane play?

Kane looked okay if a bit tentative at times. He logged 20:00, third highest of all forwards, including 1:30 on the penalty kill, ending the night with 3 shots and a -2.

2. How much longer will Lehner’s 5-on-5 shutout streak last?

Not much. He was able to add 19 minutes and 57.6 seconds to the 198:42 streak before the goal right at the end of the first period.

The Sabres had shut out the Ducks seven times in 32 meetings but there was no chance that was happening today with the Sabres very kindly allowing Anaheim 44 shots on goal.

3. Can the Sabres hold their own on faceoffs?

Amazingly enough, Buffalo put Anaheim to the sword, winning 62% at the face=off circle against the #1 faceoff team in the NHL. All the Sabres who took more than two face-offs went 50% or better at the dot, with Ryan Kesler winning only 35% and Antoine Vermette at 40%.

Comment of the Game

Tonight it was actually a thread, and about the only positive we could take away from this mess.

Biron is so good on color commentary…

Posted by B.Chalks

▼And so dreamy.

Posted by twoeightnine

▼Its the blue eyes...

Posted by Nuthatch