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Sabres Keep Pace, But Fall to Avalanche

Thompson notches a hat trick, but Buffalo falls to Colorado.

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Score: Sabres - 3 | Avalanche - 5

Shots: BUF - 32 | COL - 36

Buffalo Sabres goals: Tage Thompson (17, 18, 19)

Colorado Avalanche goals: Nathan MacKinnon (11), J.T. Compher (9), Nazem Kadri (21), Alex Newhook (11), Mikko Rantanen (26)

Plus-1: Bursts of Offense

The Sabres knew going into Saturday’s game that it wouldn’t be an easy one. From the get-go, it was hit or miss as to whether they cold actually keep up with the Avalanche, but there were definitely bursts of offense & inspiration from Buffalo. Tage Thompson opened the scoring less than three minutes in, a refreshing start to Saturday’s matinee. He’d add a second goal later in the frame and complete the hat trick in the second period.

Aside from the ones that actually went in, Victor Olofsson came close to scoring on a spin-around backhand, and Buffalo had a few other chances here and there that just missed. Alex Tuch rang it off the post after a nice need from Thompson. Skinner has his chances, including a breakaway. The Sabres may have struggled at times, but it was impressive how much they were able to keep up with the Avs. There wasn’t as big a gap between the two teams as there appeared to be on paper, and although the team doesn’t like to take moral victories out of losses like this, there’s something to be said for playing with that level of competition.

Plus-1, But Minus -0.25: Goaltending

We all know the Sabres’ big problem, and big question going into the future, is goaltending. Dustin Tokarski did his best imitation of Swiss cheese on the Colorado goals in the first period, letting in some weak ones he definitely should’ve had. He wasn’t on top of his game, and it showed.

After the game, Don Granato talked about his goalie usage & how he plans to start Craig Anderson on Sunday in Columbus, which caused him to pause and reconsider yanking Tokarski.

As a result, Tokarksi stayed in, and when he came out for the second period, he was a completely different player. There were a handful of really dangerous Avalanche chances in the middle frame, and somehow he managed to keep them all out.

Minus-1: The Officiating

What else can you say? One missed call was the difference-maker in this game. There were other missed calls along the way, too, and as much as I’d love to focus on everything else that happened in this game, it’s hard to ignore this one.

Comment of the Game

“You know, we are a young inexperienced team. And sometimes we create our own problems that cause us to struggle as a team. But you add to that some [******] calls and non calls game in and game out and we will never be able to get out of this decade slump. We have enough going against us without that.” - Jedi13

Final Thoughts

With the way this one ended, it’s a tough pill to swallow. The Sabres were right there with the Avalanche for parts of the game, and they did their part to keep it close and stay in it. Thompson played brilliantly. Skinner had some great plays in setting him up for the goals. Tokarski was awful in the first period but got better as the game went on. Unfortunately for Buffalo, in the end, whether the result is 7-3 or 5-3, a loss is still a loss.

The Sabres are right back at it on Sunday night for a 6 p.m. meeting with the Columbus Blue Jackets.