Score: Penguins 3 | Sabres 2
Shots: PIT 41 | BUF 30
Sabres Goals: Tage Thompson (6), Casey Mittelstadt (8)
Penguins Goals: Jared McCann (12), Evan Rodrigues (6), Bryan Rust (17)
Minus - 1 | A Rough Start
The Sabres were lagging from the get-go on Saturday afternoon; they certainly didn’t show up ready to play, as evidenced by the fact that Buffalo put only six shots on goal in the opening period. Pittsburgh really dominated early on, and they finally capitalized with McCann’s goal opening the scoring midway through the frame.
Plus - 1 | Dustin Tokarski
It’s a small sample size, and in the end, a loss is still a loss, but Dustin Tokarski has been a pleasant surprise to watch in net for the Sabres. Coming off his first NHL win in a long time, Tokarski was the best Sabres player early on in Saturday’s game. He made save after save to keep the team in it, and he’s a big reason why the game never got completely out of hand for Buffalo. Overall, Tokarski faced 41 shots.
Plus - 1 | Some Fight
As the game went on and the Sabres continued to find themselves down, it was nice to see a little fight in the team once again. They didn’t sit back and let the Penguins take hold of the game; they found their legs and fought for it. Even after Pittsburgh regained their two-goal lead, you could still see some of that energy in Buffalo. Casey Mittelstadt’s power-play goal late in the third extended the spark, and the Sabres especially played the last few minutes of the game strongly.... they just couldn’t quite finish it.
As a result of Saturday’s loss, the Sabres have now been officially eliminated from playoff contention. They’re the first NHL team to be eliminated this year, which comes as no surprise. With Linus Ullmark, Jack Eichel and Kyle Okposo all done for the season, playoffs out of reach and three weeks remaining, it will be interesting to see how the team utilizes some of its young players like Arttu Ruotsalainen, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Jack Quinn.