Score: Sabres 3 | Blue Jackets 7
Shots: BUF 36 | CBJ 39
Buffalo Sabres Goals:
1) Pysyk (Olofsson, Cozens)
2) Thompson (Tuch)
3) Okposo (Krebs, Mittelstadt)
Ottawa Senators Goals:
1) Kukan (Chinakhov, Domi)
2) Jenner (Voracek, Laine)
3) Kukan (Bayreuther, Gaunce)
4) Werenski (Bjorkstrand, Jenner)
5) Gaunce (Laine, Kukan)
6) Nyquist (Kuraly, Gavrikov)
7) Danforth (Gaunce)
Minus 1: Kukan’s Career Night
Out of all the offensive weapons Columbus had, few expected Dean Kukan to be one of the Jackets’ leading scorers in this game. The 28-year-old defender had a total of 22 points in 128 career games entering this game and has never scored more than 5 points in any of his 5 prior seasons. None of that mattered against Buffalo as he doubled his season point total with a three-point night (2 goals and 1 assist). On a night with multiple odd moments and bounces, a third pairing defensive defenseman having a muti-goal game might have been the most surprising.
Plus 1: Thompson Stays Hot
Tage Thompson continues his breakout season with another goal one night after notching his first career hat trick. For a brief moment, Thompson gave the Sabres the lead after rewarding a good forecheck and setup pass by Tuch with an equally impressive shot. The key to the goal was the lightning quick release where Tage received and released the puck in one motion to catch Berube off guard. We have known Thompson had a rocket for a shot since he was acquired from St. Louis, but it always took him too long to get the puck off his stick to be an effective NHL scorer. He has improved this aspect of his game with fantastic results.
Minus 2: Right Down Main Street
Too many times, Columbus players were able to waltz down the middle of the slot for open chances on Anderson. The lack of defensive awareness cost the Sabres multiple times including the eventual game winning goal by Zach Werenski halfway through the 2nd period. Mental mistakes are bound to happen in the 2nd half of a back-to-back, but there were too many prime scoring chances. Anderson did not have his best performance in this one, but you can hardly blame him for letting in shots from the dead center of the slot.
Overall, this wasn’t the blowout the score would indicate. Two goals in the last minute, including an empty netter, turned this from a relatively close game to a blow-out. Shots were close to even at the final buzzer after a heavy Columbus advantage early on, and it seemed like Buffalo was primed to at least get within one during the third. Unfortunately, the Sabres scorers couldn’t find the back of the net in the closing minutes. Anderson did not have his A game, and his defense did him no favors. Too many turnovers, blown coverages, and lost puck battles cost Buffalo a chance to build of a solid performance against Colorado. The top powerplay unit was in equal disarray without Dahlin controlling the zone entry and in-zone puck movement. Hopefully, a couple days off will see the All-Star Swede return. The rest of the team should remember that opponents in the middle of the slot are a priority in defensive coverage as they prepare for another matchup in Montreal on Wednesday.