Forget the season. Forget the injuries. Forget not being in the playoff race. For one special night, you couldn’t write a better story for the Buffalo Sabres or their captain, Brian Gionta.
Playing in his 1000th NHL game, and honored in a moving pre-game ceremony, Gionta would score the game-winning goal during the second period in front of family, friends, and the fans who cheered for the team Gionta grew up watching.
It was the second consecutive outing for the Sabres that saw them dominate their opponent from bell to bell, adding a bit more of the “what could have been” frustration to the end of the season, but a good sign nonetheless.
The Sabres came out strong, scoring right off the bat on their first power play thank to Ryan O’Reilly, who pounded a rebound off of an Eichel shot past Florida goalie James Reimer to open things up. The Sabres would open things up to 2-0 on a Zach Bogosian goal that saw Bogo grab his own rebound and put it five-hole for his second goal of the year.
And then, as we’ve seen so many times, would come the second period collap- wait, the Sabres would score two more goals in the second? Yes indeed. It all started with another power play goal from the man of the evening, Gionta, who received raucous cheers from fans and teammates alike for scoring - his 15th - on this momentous night. Marcus Foligno would add his 13th of the year later in the period to give the Sabres their fourth goal.
Yes, they gave up two goals to Jonathan Huberdeau and Jonathan Marchessault, but overall the defense played well and Robin Lehner was great again - even stopping a penalty shot in the third - to give the Sabres another impressive home victory. Not even a very questionably disallowed Zemgus Girgensons goal (kicking versus falling) could damper the mood in the KeyBank Center as the Sabres sent their fans, and their captain, home very happy tonight.
1. Can the Sabres play with the same intensity without the Leafs and their rowdy fans in town?
Believe me, I’m just as shocked as you are to type...yes. We’ve seen them so often play to the level of their opponents over the past few years that to see them actually rise up and dominate an opponent at or below their level is surprisingly refreshing.
2. If the Sabres allow fewer than seven goals tonight, does that make them better than the Blackhawks?
3. What will the team do to celebrate Gionta's milestone?
The Sabres did a great job celebrating Gionta before the game. They showed this video:
His teammates made up silly t-shirts to celebrate:
And he would get a few gifts, including this very cool engraved silver stick:
Good job, Sabres, and congrats to a very deserving Brian Gionta.
Comment of the Game
RJ is the best
"sixteen minutes in and Kane hasn’t even fought Petrovic yet…"
Posted by B.Chalks