Score: Blue Jackets 4, Sabres 3 (OT)
Shots: BUF: 27 CBJ: 34
Columbus Blue Jackets: Goals: Jack Roslovic, Brendan Gaunce, Oliver Bjorkstand, Jakub Voracek
Buffalo Sabres: Goals: Rasmus Dahlin, Kyle Okposo, Alex Tuch
Plus 1: Sabres Show Solid Effort in the 2nd Period, Better Majority of the Game
The Buffalo Sabres started the game getting outshot 14-7 in the 1st period and giving up a garbage goal to Jack Roslovic. They played much better offensively during the 2nd, when Rasmus Dahlin tied it 3:27 in, with an assist from Jokiharju and Thompson. Buffalo was very aggressive during the rest of the period and Kyle Okposo made it 2-1 Sabres late. The Sabres played better overall in 60 minutes than they have in many recent matchups.
Plus 2: Alex Tuchs It In
Alex Tuch scored with an assist from Skinner and Thompson in the opening seconds of the 3rd period to open up a 3-1 Sabres lead. Tuch has been a major asset since Buffalo acquired him from Vegas, netting 13 goals and 8 assists in his brief Sabres career.
Minus 1: Sabres Can’t Maintain Their Lead
Sabresfan70 had the Comment of the Game: “Another 2-goal lead gone. Reminder: Buffalo’s 8 losses are the most in the NHL when leading after 2nd period.” All season long, Sabres fans have watched their team blow leads in the 3rd period and end up putting another one in the loss column.
Fans can never relax until the final whistle sounds and they never know when they’ll get their hopes dashed. Sometimes it’s late in the game, as it was on Nov. 21st, when New York Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren beat Aaron Dell with 0.4 seconds left. Other times the Sabres force an overtime and lose minutes or seconds into OT, as it happened against Columbus during this game or versus Detroit on Jan. 17th.
It’s become a question not of, if they’ll lose but when they’ll blow it. Sabres fans, who haven’t ever seen a Stanley Cup trophy after more than 50 years or even a playoff series in over a decade, deserve better.
Minus 2: Refs Screw the Sabes Again
The referees penalized Kyle Okposo for holding against Andrew Peeke, with six and half minutes to go. Buffalo was leading by a goal, then Oliver Bjorkstrand scored a minute later to tie it up. There were several calls the refs could have whistled on the Blue Jackets, but they chose to ignore them and penalized Okposo in the 3rd period’s final minutes.
Buffalo has consistently been on the short end of the officiating stick this season. The Sabres are bad enough to lose on their own. They don’t need the refs to help the other team out, or give the perception that they are, which the NHL has been guilty of since No Goal in 1999.
The Buffalo Sabres are playing better overall, showing more aggression, getting shots on goal and pucks to the net. However, not maintaining leads continues to hurt them and they keep letting their opponents back in the game, either in the 3rd period or in OT. Buffalo will inevitably play to half empty arenas unless or until that changes.