Shots on Goal: Sabres 30 | Maple Leafs 43
Sabres Goal Scorers: Rasmus Ristolainen (2)
Maple Leafs Goal Scorers: William Nylander (10), John Tavares (10)
Plus-1: The Chances Were There
Despite only registering one goal on the evening, the Buffalo Sabres lack of goals wasn’t for a lack of opportunity. It was just one of those nights where the opposing netminder was at his absolute best. Frederik Andersen stopped a couple of point-blank, sure-goal opportunities, one against Conor Sheary, and another during the second period against Jeff Skinner.
While the Sabres were out-shot tonight, they had more dangerous opportunities. Hats-off to Andersen, but if they can continue to produce chances like that on a consistent basis, they’ll win more games than they lose.
Plus-2: Taking Three Points Against Toronto
The result tonight was disappointing, but at the end of the day, the Sabres took three of a possible four points against a division rival. Leading up to this weekend’s home-and-home series, the Maple Leafs were riding high under new head coach, Sheldon Keefe.
In his three games behind the bench before last night’s game in Buffalo, Keefe’s squad had out-scored their opponents 14-4 in consecutive victories. Obviously, Toronto hasn’t had the start they were hoping for this season, but they looked to be turning a corner in a big way before running into the Sabres. Taking points away from a team like that is a good sign.
Minus-1: The Power-Play Remains a Massive Concern
I know that I keep saying it, but I’ll continue to do so until it’s resolved. If the Sabres are going to remain competitive in the Atlantic Division this season, they need to figure out what is wrong with their power-play approach.
Following tonight’s contest, they finished the month of November 1-for-37 (2.7-percent) with the man-advantage. They actually gave up more shorthanded goals than that with two in the same game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Buffalo isn’t talented or deep enough at five-on-five to stay competitive without a functioning power-play unit. This problem needs to be number one on Ralph Kruger’s priority list right now.
If not for a bad camera angle on a puck that probably crossed the goal line, we might be talking about a weekend sweep of a really good team (and arch-rival) right now. The Sabres are 2-1-2 in their last five contests, after dropping nine of their last 10 before that. Jack Eichel isn’t being relied upon to be the sole producer of offensive opportunities (though his nine-game point-streak continued tonight with an assist on Rasmus Ristolainen’s goal), and the defense has cleaned some things up in their own end.
The key moving forward is consistency. After they host the New Jersey Devils on Monday, they’ll embark on another Western Conference road trip. The slate of opponents isn’t going to get easier to start the month of December, and they cannot afford another losing stretch if they hope to keep pace in a very tight Atlantic Division.