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Recap: Turnovers doom Sabres to a loss against Islanders

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Sabres dropped a 4-2 decision despite vastly outshooting the visitors

NHL: New York Islanders at Buffalo Sabres
CJ Smith celebrates his first NHL point
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Turns out outshooting opponents doesn’t always lead to wins for the Buffalo Sabres, especially when turnovers and a goaltender having an off-day take center-stage.

The Sabres started the game the better team but somehow it was the New York Islanders getting the shots on goal, and they took the lead halfway through the first period with Cal Clutterbuck wiring his shot past Robin Lehner high on the gloveside. Buffalo ended up outshot 12-6 at the break.

A strong start to the second period didn’t lead to goals immediately, but Buffalo finally broke through Jaroslav Halak when debutant CJ Smith centered for Evander Kane to slam home. The tie was short-lived though, after much-hyped rookie Josh Ho-Sang broke through on goal and neatly deked one home past Lehner less than a minute after Kane’s goal.

Buffalo’s NHL-leading power play failed to get going today going 0-4 and creating little with the man advantage in the middle stanza despite having three power plays in a row.

After outshooting the Isles 15-8 in the second, the fans were hoping to see Buffalo start the third period strong and Matt Moulson found the perfect feed for a streaking Zemgus Girgenson to dive and redirect past Halak to tie it up again.

Despite once again looking the stronger team in the ensuing minutes, the Sabres fell behind again. Dmitry Kulikov committed yet another horrendous defensive turnover, and Lehner bunted the errant puck straight to Anders Lee who scored on a wrister.

Buffalo looked good value to find another tying goal but another egregious turnover, this time from Jake McCabe, found Lee and his quick backhand caught Lehner by surprise and that was all she wrote. The goalie almost handed Lee his hat-trick goal with a giveaway of his own, but dove full length to foil the forward.

The Sabres outshot New York 16-6 in the third but couldn’t overcome an indifferent powerplay and defensive miscues to lose the game, despite the 37-26 edge in shots.

Three Questions

1. How will recent signee C.J. Smith look in his Sabres debut?

Smith showed some good hustle and got his first NHL point in his first start too, finding Kane after driving to the net for the Sabres’ first goal. He ended up with two shots on goal in just under ten minutes of ice time. CJ also got to play with Eichel and Reinhart for a bit too.

2. Now that Ristolainen is back, will the Sabres defense be bad again?

Amazingly enough, the answer to this is yes. However, it was individual errors more to blame than anything else, though Buffalo gave up a lot of 2-on-1 chances as well.

3. Which team will need their missing offensive star more?

Well, Anders Lee stepped up to the plate and got the job done for the Isles. Both his goals were somewhat opportunistic, taking him to 31 goals on the season - three more than Tavares. For the Sabres, Okposo could certainly have helped when the goals seemed hard to come by today.

Comment of the Game

Well, it is what it is. This game is best forgotten.

Posted by BuffBillsFan05