Score: Vegas: 4, Buffalo: 2
Shots: BUF-34, VGK-28
Buffalo Goalscorers: Dominik Kahun, Jeff Skinner
Vegas Goalscorers: Nicholas Roy, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith(2)
Minus-1: Carter Hutton
In an 82 game season, there will be times when the goalie will make a mistake that costs the team a game. For Buffalo, that seems to happen at an above-average rate. The team has improved overall in recent weeks, but even when playing well against tough opponents in the west, they can’t count on the goalie to make the saves he needs to. On the third goal, he puts himself beyond the goalpost, so he can’t get back into the net to make the wraparound save. On the Karlsson goal, he’s so deep in his net that Karlsson has the entire side to shoot at.
Hutton had played himself into the hearts of fans with a few solid win streaks in his two seasons in Buffalo, but his inconsistencies and glaring errors are wounds on a team that is desperate for success.
Minus-1: Keeping a lead
Sure, it was a surprise for the Sabres to score just 2:16 into the game. What was utterly unsurprising was the fact that they failed to score for another 55 minutes and allowed the Golden Knights to score four consecutive goals before doing so. It’s exhausting to watch this team struggle so mightily to just score, but also, to stop other teams from scoring. They are 12th-worst in the league in goals against per game. They are 11th-worst in goals for per game. At some point, that needs to change.
Plus-1: Dominik Kahun
After eight days off, Kahun made his debut with the Sabres. He opened the scoring for the game, bringing Sabres twitter to their feet with exuberance. Finally! A good story involving the Sabres! Ultimately, Kahun played 10:37 and the goal was his best play of the night, for sure. It was nice to feel good about the team for a few minutes.
Even: Wayne Simmonds
Of the moves made on trade day, Simmonds was perhaps the most intriguing. Once a virulent scorer, Simmonds has begun to show his age a bit - perhaps his physical game was taking its toll. Still, on Wednesday night, the newly acquired forward came out firing, hitting anything that moved and spreading chaos wherever he went. It was odd, then, to see his ice time fall off - even with 45 seconds on the power play. He seems to be a spark for a club that has needed that type of player for some time.
Even: Jeff Skinner
With 12 seconds left in the game, Jeff Skinner got his eighth of the season - a beautiful backhand fluttered to the top corner. He recorded eight shots on goal. According to Natural Stat Trick, he led both teams with 10 scoring chances. Again, for a team desperate for success, it was nice to see Skinner get on the board. His 7.9% shooting percentage tells the tale of a man who is shooting his shot, but just not finding the back of the net. He’s second on the team in shots with 165. It had to feel good for the forward to finally cash one in.
Though the Sabres are not mathematically eliminated from the postseason, these two losses bring us ever closer to the precipice. It is getting to the point where the team will have to win out in order to make it, and that’s just an unreasonable expectation, as reflected in these last two games out west. There are a lot of good teams in hockey right now. Buffalo just isn’t one of them.