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Sabres Hold Off Pittsburgh’s Late Surge

Tokarski remained strong for all three periods in a 2-1 victory.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Score: BUF - 2 | PIT - 1

Shots: Sabres 19 | Penguins 46

Buffalo Sabres goals: Colin Miller (2), Kyle Okposo (4)

Pittsburgh Penguins goals: Jake Guentzel (5)

Plus 1: Dustin Tokarski

After watching the barrage that Tokarski faced against the Penguins on Tuesday night, it’s almost incredible to think that he only let up one goal, a redirection on the power play by Guentzel that he had virtually no chance of stopping. Tokarski was also able to shake off a hard collision taken when Guentzel ran into him after a breakaway opportunity during the second period, all while making multiple acrobatic saves from start to finish. Kudos to him, in my book he deserves all three stars.

Minus 1: Power Play struggles

The Sabres power play opportunities were almost counterproductive against the Penguins, as the stats alone don’t even tell the whole tale. Buffalo was 0/5 on the power play and surrendered numerous high-quality scoring chances to Pittsburgh penalty killers, especially to Evan Rodrigues, a name many Sabres fan can recognize. Many of these chances for the Penguins weren’t necessarily just from hard work either; most were the result of ill-advised passes and careless effort by the Sabres power play units.

Minus 2: Complete effort still lacking

Overall, the Sabres seemed to be playing decent hockey for the first period and most of the second. Then the third period happened. After looking competitive through the first two periods, Buffalo played perhaps their worst period of the season, registering only 3 shots on goal to the Penguins 20, and outside of one chance late in the third, had next to no offensive zone pressure. The Sabres were fortunate that Tokarski played one of the best games of his career, but they can’t expect him to repeat that performance every game.

Final Thoughts:

While the Sabres didn’t have many shots on net Tuesday night, they did have decent scoring chances and were able to capitalize on two of their opportunities. It was good to see Colin Miller get on the score sheet, as he can struggle to hit the net with his shot, but when he does get it on net, it is tough for any goalie to stop. I also thought Kyle Okposo’s line was the best tonight, as they produced a goal and seemed the best equipped to slow down the Penguins relentless attack.

Tokarski was a brick wall in net all night, stopping 45 of 46 shots. While he may not be Buffalo’s longterm answer in net, he is proving to be at the very least a reliable backup. It was hard not to be in awe at some of the saves he made against Pittsburgh, as well as the effort he gave forth all game long.

Next up: The Sabres head back home to face the Calgary Flames on Thursday at 7 pm.