Following an ugly loss at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, the Buffalo Sabres needed a a strong outing last night against a dangerous San Jose Sharks team. Unfortunately, the boys in blue-and-gold were unable to overcome a one-goal deficit heading into the third period, allowing three goals in the final frame en route to a 5-1 blowout.
The Sharks set the tone early, registering their first two goals of the game just 4:02 into the opening frame after capitalizing twice on a double-minor high-sticking penalty against Kyle Okposo. Joonas Donskoi and Logan Couture each earned their second tallies of the season on the Sharks’ first opportunity with the man-advantage.
The Sabres temporarily stopped the bleeding to finish the period, while still failing to capitalize on three power-play opportunities of their own.
Jake McCabe did give Buffalo a glimmer of hope at 1:35 in the second period with his first goal of the season, narrowing the deficit to 2-1. The initial rebound from Rasmus Dahlin’s shot at the point was collected by Jeff Skinner who dished it to McCabe for a beautiful shot from the left faceoff dot.
After a fast-paced, entertaining finish to the second period by both sides, a comeback seemed attainable. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off quickly in the third.
Less than five minutes in, Couture notched his second goal of the evening. Marco Scandella failed to clear the puck in front of Carter Hutton, allowing former-Sabre Evander Kane to dish it across for his second assist of the night to put the Sharks up 3-1.
Scandella could be the next player to spend a night in the press box after an abysmal start to the 2018-19 campaign. All night long, he was weak on the puck while making questionable decisions in the defensive zone.
It was all San Jose from that point on. Joe Pavelski would score his fourth of the year and his team’s third power-play goal of the night at 11:49. Couture would complete the hat-trick at 18:13, capping off the Sabres second consecutive blowout loss on the road. Buffalo was out-shot 20-9 in the period.
As it stands, Phil Housley’s squad has more questions than answers leading up to the team’s final two games of their Western Conference road trip. Over the last two contests, the Sabres have failed to convert on 11 opportunities (while allowing one short-handed goal) with the man-advantage, and the special teams struggles don’t end there. They’ve also allowed goals on four of their last 10 instances on the penalty-kill.
Their next opponent, the Los Angeles Kings have seen their fair of difficulty to start the year as well. They currently stand at 2-4-1 following a 7-2 drubbing at the hands of the New York Islanders last night. The Kings have dropped three in a row, scoring a total of only four goals during their current losing streak. If the Sabres fail to rebound when they pay them a visit on Saturday afternoon, things could go off the rails quickly. Puck drop is at 3:30pm Eastern time.
Final: Sharks 5, Sabres 1
Shots on Goal: Sharks 39 | Sabres 25
Sabres Goals: Jake McCabe (1)
Sharks Goals: Joonas Donskoi (2), Logan Couture (2), Logan Couture (3), Joe Pavelski (4), Logan Couture (4)
Three Stars of the Game
1. Logan Couture (3 G)
2. Brent Burns (2 A)
3. Martin Jones (24 Saves)