Score: Avalanche 4, Sabres 1
Shots: BUF: 31 COL: 36
Colorado Avalanche Goals: Gabriel Landeskog (1), Nazem Kadri (1), Mikko Rantanen (1), Valeri Nichushkin (1)
Buffalo Sabres Goals: Dylan Cozens (1)
Plus 1: Sabres Don’t Give Up When They’re Down
The Buffalo Sabres were outshot in the 1st period 13-6 and were down a goal going into the 2nd. In the 2nd period the Sabres came roaring back, and Dylan Cozens scored with an assist from Skinner to tie the game 1-1. Buffalo played very aggressively during the 1st half of the second, until Nazem Kadri shot a puck in the net that looked like a hand pass. Sabres coach Don Granato challenged the goal, but officials upheld the on-ice call.
Thanks to that Kadri goal, and the subsequent delay of game Avs power play (thanks for the rule change, Bettman) the Sabres found themselves down 3-1. The team didn’t give up, especially at the end of the 3rd period, when the Sabres had a 5-on-3 after Valeri Nichushkin got an interference call after Buffalo pulled Tokarski. It wasn’t enough, but the Sabres deserve an E for effort.
Plus 2: Okposo Throws Some Punches
At the end of the 2nd period, Avalanche forward Logan O’Connor started throwing his weight around in front of the Sabres’ net. Kyle Okposo quickly got involved and pounded O’Connor to the ice, getting in some good slugs and showing the Avs the Sabres won’t tolerate that type of behavior. Both players served a two-minute minor, but Okposo made his point.
Minus 2: Refs Play Favorites, Give Avs Gifts
Buffalo Warrior had the Comment of the Game: “Until the refs decided to hand the game to the Avs, this was the best 2nd period the Sabres had played this year.” The officials didn’t blow the whistle on the Nazem Kadri goal, and Don Granato was justified challenging it as a hand pass. The on-ice call was questionable, and letting the goal stand and giving Colorado a power play to make it 3-1 was rubbing salt in the Sabres’ wounds.
The refs also missed more than one call during the rest of the night they could have blown on the Avs. It’s one thing if Buffalo loses a game because of a poor performance, it’s quite another if it looks like the fix is in.
Minus 2: Poor Power Play Effort Major Weak Spot
The Buffalo Sabres had five power play chances, including a 5-on-3 near the end of the 3rd period that might have made it a one goal game. However, as the Sabres have shown throughout the season, they have trouble controlling the puck with the man advantage, getting many scoring chances or even making their opponent’s goalie sweat.
Buffalo failed to get a shot on goal during their first two power plays and showed little pressure till the very last man advantage. Division leading teams don’t give up many scoring opportunities. The Sabres had plenty of chances to get back in the game with five PPs, but couldn’t make any of them work.
The Buffalo Sabres have made solid efforts during certain periods and games, but their lack of consistency and power play weaknesses have cost them points since October. The season is already more than half over and the team hasn’t had a lengthy winning streak, but lots of losing ones. It doesn’t help when the refs influence the final outcome. The Sabres can’t change the officiating, but can do something about their own performance.
The Sabres head to Vegas to face the Golden Knights, Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 10pm.