Well, that certainly could have gone better. After a dreadful effort in the first and second period last night, the Sabres dominance in the final frame wasn’t enough as they fell 4-2 to the Ottawa Senators. Losers of four straight after a hot start to the year, the Senators were able to capitalize early against a Buffalo team that took 40 minutes to find their groove.
Despite heavily out-shooting their opponents (thanks in large part to a 23-shot third period), the Sabres had a tough time getting pucks past Craig Anderson when Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner and Jason Pominville weren’t on the ice.
Just under seven minutes into the contest, Ryan Dzingel got the scoring started, jamming the puck between Carter Hutton’s legs in traffic out front. That tally marked his fourth point in as many games.
Entering the first intermission down 1-0, fans expected the Sabres to shake off a bad start (that could have ended much worse than it did), however that simply wasn’t the case. In the second period, Buffalo came out flat once again. Outside of the first line, the forward group failed to sustain pressure while the defense continued to look very weak in front of Hutton.
Ottawa increased their lead to 2-0 exactly 60 seconds into the period as Ryan DeMelo was credited with a goal that took a rogue bounce off of the boards, hitting Hutton in the back and bouncing into the net.
Later in the period, the Senators took advantage of a Kyle Okposo delay-of-game penalty, capitalizing on their second power-play opportunity of the night. As if the Sabres’ defense didn’t appear incompetent enough to that point, Jake McCabe managed to accidentally knock his goaltender’s stick out of his had as the perpetually under-performing, Rasmus Ristolainen bumped him out of position, allowing Colin White a wide open opportunity from the slot.
In the final 20 minutes, Mr. Hyde transformed back into Dr.Jekyll as a fast, efficient, hungry Sabres team took to the ice. Less than a minute into the third, Jason Pominville (who celebrated his 1,000th career game this evening), scored the Sabres’ first tally of the night, deflecting Eichel’s shot from the blue line.
The goal marked Pominville’s sixth of the season. Since being promoted to the first line, the 35-year-old winger has posted nine points in five games, helping catalyze an otherwise ineffective Sabres attack.
Three minutes later, Skinner added his team-leading seventh goal of the year, deflecting Ristolainen’s shot on the power-play. After failing to register a point in his first four games in blue-and-gold, Skinner has 13 points in his last nine games.
The rest of the period was all Buffalo. Despite failing to tie the game, the Sabres controlled play for the remainder of the contest, just missing on several prime opportunities.
In the waning seconds of regulation, Bobby Ryan registered his third goal of the year on an empty-netter, securing a 4-2 victory for the struggling Senators, who are now back to .500 with a 5-5-2 record.
As has been the case all season, the Sabres were held back by a lack of scoring depth and general ineptitude on the blue line. It remains to be seen what type of changes Phil Housley will initiate as his team heads home on Saturday afternoon to take on the Senators once again in part two of a home-and-home.
Puck drop is at 2:00PM at KeyBank Center.
Final: Sabres 2, Senators 4
Shots on Goal: Sabres 48 | Senators 32
Sabres Goals: Pominville (6), Skinner (7) (PPG)
Senators Goals: Dzingel (5) (PPG), DeMelo (2), White (3) (PPG), Ryan (3)
Three Stars of the Game
1. Craig Anderson (46 Saves)
2. Thomas Chabot (2 A)
3. Jason Pominville (1 G)