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Sabres Get Burnt to a Crisp by Flames

A four-goal effort in the second period powers Calgary to win.

NHL: Calgary Flames at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Score: BUF 0 | CGY 5

Shots: Sabres 27 | Flames 33

Buffalo Sabres goals: None.

Calgary Flames goals: Johnny Gaudreau (5,6), Andrew Mangiapane (11,12), Matthew Tkachuk (8)

Minus-1: Settling In

The Sabres struggled to settle into Thursday’s game - almost a continuation of the third period against Pittsburgh. (Zemgus Girgensons agreed with this sentiment after the game.) Although they had a few good chances, players had trouble hitting the net and had multiple shots go wide or high. Their offensive zone entries needed work and they largely seemed to favor the dump and chase, which didn’t work well in their favor as Calgary was quick to pounce on any loose puck. Past the midway point of the opening frame, Buffalo had hit the net with only two shots — which simply isn’t sustainable against any team, let alone a good opponent like the Flames.

Finally, once the Flames got on the board with Gaudreau’s opening goal, the Sabres seemed to kick themselves into another gear, at least for a little while. After recording just two shots in 10:43, they cycled the puck better and hit the net six times in a roughly four-and-a-half-minute span. If they want to win games, they have to play a full sixty minutes instead of just getting run over for huge parts of it. But then.....

Minus-2: Just.... Yikes.

After ending the first period better than they started it, the Sabres fell flat on their faces coming out for the second period. Less than two minutes in, the Flames doubled their lead as Andrew Mangiapane rang one in off Tokarski’s glove. A power-play opportunity several minutes later proved fruitless for Buffalo, and when the Sabres finally stepped up their physicality a bit, they wound upon the disadvantage.

Things only went further downhill from there, as the Flames scored three goals in a span of just 1:37 to quickly go up by a whopping five goals. You couldn’t really blame Dustin Tokarski for them, and Granato graciously gave him the mercy pull after forty minutes, sending Aaron Dell in to finish the game.

The Sabres couldn’t seem to win a face-off, couldn’t sustain offensive zone pressure, couldn’t hang onto the puck and gave Calgary all the space they needed to strike quickly, over and over again, and take full control of the game. It was no surprise that the fans, who seemed to finally be getting into it, rang out with a chorus of boos at the end of the second period. Naturally, they also booed the Sabres off the ice at the end of the game, in what was probably the best example of “atmosphere” all night at KeyBank Center.

Comment of the Game

I was asked if I wanted 2 free tickets in the 200 level with parking pass for tonights game. I am so glad I turned them down. - Dawg716

Final Thoughts

This game was tough to watch as the Sabres got outworked, outplayed, outchanced... in pretty much every area of the ice. They struggled to win face-offs, their offensive zone entries needed work, they didn’t support Dustin Tokarski. There was so little energy from the team on the ice, matched by the lack of energy in the crowd. The Flames were absolutely dominant, and they came into Buffalo and burned it down.

The best possible thing you can do after a game like this is to maybe sit with it for the night, then throw it out in the morning and move on to the next one. There are games where little mistakes are made and small things go wrong here and there, and then there are nights like Thursday’s where every facet of the game seems to go wrong.

Both Girgensons and Vinnie Hinostroza said Thursday’s game isn’t something to panic about, but acknowledged the team’s struggles. Hinostroza called it “an embarrassing effort at home” and said they’ll reflect on it tonight, but not let it weigh on them heading into an upcoming busy stretch of five games in seven days.

“It’s not something we’re panicking about, but it’s definitely something that we can’t let happen again.” - Hinostroza

Unfortunately for the Sabres, their next opponent is an incredibly dangerous one: the New York Rangers, who were 10-3-3 heading into Thursday night. Buffalo heads to Manhattan to square off with the Rangers for a Sunday matinee at 6 pm; the only saving grace for the Sabres is that the Rangers also played Thursday (in Toronto) and square off in Ottawa Saturday - so maybe their third game in four days will mean they’re just a little tired and out of step.