Score: BUF 3 | NJ 4
Shots: Sabres 22 | Devils 42
Buffalo Sabres Goals: Tage Thompson (11, 12), Ethan Prow (1)
New Jersey Devils Goals: Dougie Hamilton (7), Jesper Bratt (9), Jack Hughes (6), Yegor Sharangovich (5)
After a dismal first period, Sabres newbie Alex Tuch finally opened scoring for the home team with a wrister from the point - his first shot on goal and first point in his first game wearing a blue and gold jersey. Tage Thompson was credited with the goal as he redirected it into the net, but it was Tuch who got the wheels in motion. Speaking of Thompson, the center picked up right where he left off before the holiday/COVID pause with yet another goal (this time off a beautiful breakaway) to tie up the game 2-2. This was Tommer’s third multi-goal game of the season. Rasmus Dahlin also deserves an honorable mention with his two assists in the second period as well.
Plus-2: On the Prow-l
In his first NHL game, 29-year-old defenseman Ethan Prow scored his very first goal to narrow the gap in the score. Unfortunately, it would be the final goal of the game as the Sabres could not tie it up again to force overtime following New Jersey’s two goals early in the third period. According to Rob Ray, the bench totally “erupted” following the goal and it was hard not to be excited for the guy. The initial shot was from Victor Olofsson at the point, but Prow was able to bury the puck on a nice rebound off of goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood from the bottom of the left face-off circle. Prow’s time on ice for the night was 15:59 and he managed two blocks in addition to his goal.
Minus-1: Always Playing Catch-up
One of the many struggles for the Sabres this season has been their inability to score first and/or maintain a lead. Wednesday was no exception as the Devils opened scoring in the first five minutes of the game after a high sticking penalty from Kyle Okposo. Later in the opening period, New Jersey would score again giving the visiting team a quick 2-0 lead going into the first intermission. At the point of the second goal, the Sabres only had two shots on goal and countless turnovers. Woof.
Of the eight puck possession leaders in the first period, five of them had red jerseys on and none of the Sabres leaders were forwards. It’s pretty hard to score if the forwards don’t have puck possession, eh?
The highlight of the first period, though? Brett Murray’s fight with Jersey defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler after a hit to Okposo deep in the Devils’ zone. Murray snuck a few southpaws in to the face and it was glorious.
Minus-2: Deja vu
Much like the first period, the third period did not go well for the Sabres. New Jersey tallied two unanswered goals and, while Buffalo made an effort to tie it up again after Prow’s goal, the Devils simply shot more (almost double the Sabres, to be exact). You have to shoot to score goals. Period.
Overall, there were truly some moments of greatness. While the goaltending was a bit shaky and many big players were out due to COVID protocol (Jeff Skinner and Dylan Cozens, to name a few) as well as head coach Don Granato, the effort was definitely there and the debuts from Prow and Tuch were fun to watch. Peyton Krebs and JJ Peterka also gave fans a taste of their talent during their own debuts tonight and, while it was not the outcome fans wanted after 11 days “off,” it was nice to see some new faces on the ice. Now, about those shots on goal - or lack thereof...
Buffalo travels to Long Island Thursday night to face the New York Islanders in their final game of 2021. Puck drop is at 7:30 pm.