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Sabres start strong, but ultimately fall to Jeff Carter and the Pens

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Buffalo suffers 8-4 loss in second last game of their dismal season

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

Score: Sabres 4 | Penguins 8

Shots: BUF 23 | PIT 34

Sabres Goals: Drake Caggiula (2, 3), Tage Thompson (8), Jeff Skinner (7)

Penguins Goals: Jeff Carter (13, 14-PP, 15, 16), Brian Dumoulin (4), Jared McCann (14), Sidney Crosby (24), Kasperi Kapanen (11)

Plus 1 | A Few Firsts

The Sabres opened up scoring - a task that they need to repeat more often next season - in the first half of tonight’s first period. Drake Caggiula, a trade deadline pickup from Arizona’s waivers, scored his first goal as a Sabre and the visiting team kept good pressure on the Pens until a series of goals were shot by way of Jeff Carter (more on him later) and the momentum completely changed for the remainder of the game. Caggiula also added his second goal later in the game when he tied up the score, 3-3.

Another first was Brett Murray - his first NHL game appearance. Drafted as a fourth round pick in 2016, the Ontario-born forward had a good start tonight with 1 shot and a +1 rating. Aside from his stats, his size of 6’5” is hard to miss on the ice. He is one of the tallest Sabres to wear the number 57 (behind Tyler Myers, respectively) and is the seventh Sabre to make his NHL debut this season. Murray tallied 19 points in 23 games with Rochester this year as well.

Minus 1 | Jeff’s Big Night - Not Our Jeff

Pittsburgh forward Jeff Carter opened up scoring for the home team tonight and it was as if he could not stop scoring. His first goal was reviewed after an abrupt stoppage in play in the middle of the first period. He would later add a powerplay goal and two more regulation goals to get four total on the night for the Penguins. Carter has 19 goals and 14 assists against Buffalo in his career and tonight marked his first four-goal game ever.

The other Jeff (Skinner) scored halfway through the third period, but the Sabres would still lose by several goals. Skinner’s goal was his first power-play goal since the 2018-2019 season. Yikes.

Minus 2 | Turnovers

While the game started off well for Buffalo, it obviously did not continue that way. Perhaps the biggest reason was due to an alarming amount of turnovers in the Sabres’ zone. One that stood out like a sore thumb was made by Henri Jokiharju on a breakout attempt, which led to one of the many Pittsburgh goals.

Final Thoughts

The Sabres face the Penguins again on Saturday afternoon, finally putting an end to one of their worst seasons in the history of the franchise. Buffalo has now finished last overall for the fourth time in eight years. It is truly exhausting just typing that.

Hopefully, the team can bounce back and move in a more positive direction next season.