Score: Sabres 3 | Kraken 4
Shots: BUF 35 | SEA 22
Buffalo Sabres Goals: Alex Tuch (19, 20), Rasmus Dahlin (13)
Seattle Kraken Goals: Jordan Eberle (10), Yanni Gourde (6), Matty Beniers (16), Justin Schultz (5)
Plus-1/Minus-1: A Slow Start, But a Good One
The Sabres knew going into Tuesday’s game that it wouldn’t be an easy one. The Kraken came in on a five-game winning streak, having defeated the Canadiens Monday while the Sabres were getting shutout by the Flyers.
Tuesday’s game certainly looked like a matchup between two teams who’d played the night prior. Zzzz. The Sabres had a few opportunities early on but struggled to hit the net. Their first shot didn’t come until 9:56 in, but it was a dandy. Tage Thompson used his physical presence to carry the puck to the net, then fed Alex Tuch with a nifty shot for the opening goal.
Plus-1: Honestly, Not a Bad Game
Tuesday’s effort was overall not a terrible one for the Sabres. Though the end result is still a loss, they played better in the third period and found ways to get shots on net. The Sabres literally doubled their shots on goal output in the third period alone, but just couldn’t quite find those creative ways to beat Grubauer.
On one hand, a loss is still a loss - and now this is two straight for the Sabres. On the other hand, this was a completely different game from Monday’s loss, and it wouldn’t be fair to string them together as if they have anything in common - aside from the end result. A few bounces, a few posts, made all the difference in the world.
With two goals, Tuch stood out. Dahlin scored his 13th of the season and is set to break his single-season goals record. Aside from those two, I thought Owen Power had a decent game. He played over 25 minutes and had five shots on goal, including a few really strong opportunities that showcased why he’s a 20-year-old who can play with the big boys.
On Another Note...
We saw quite a few lineup changes for Tuesday night. The most unexpected was Eric Comrie getting the start in goal, his first at the NHL level since November 16. The Sabres had planned to recall Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen from Rochester as part of the team’s three-goalie carousel, but UPL fell ill in the morning.
Youngsters Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka both got the opportunity to wach the game from above, scratched to allow Vinnie Hinostroza and Rasmus Asplund to slot back in. Quinn & Peterka have both struggled a bit to produce offensively as of late, and head coach Don Granato spoke before the game about how important it can be to step back and watch the game to hopefully break out of a plateau like that.
I’ll have more on Quinn, Peterka & the other Sabres rookies in the coming days, but I really appreciated Granato’s thoughtful answer when I asked him if the team would give any thought to sending either Quinn or Peterka to Rochester. (Neither would require waivers, and the Amerks play on Wednesday.) Here’s the clip:
Henri Jokiharju also returned from injury, and Granato said he liked what he saw from him. With his addition, Jacob Bryson was the odd man out on the blueline. Casey Fitzgerald was put on waivers earlier in the day to make a roster spot that could’ve been for UPL if he wasn’t sick. Instead, it opened a spot for Jokiharju.
Don’t fret. It's easy to get upset after a loss like Monday night against the Flyers. Following that with another loss isn’t ideal, but it’s not the end of the world. The Sabres got some good chances against a tough Kraken team, and for much of the game, it could've gone either way. There are definitely some goals that it felt like Comrie should’ve had, but it’s his first NHL game back in almost two months and there’s bound to be lapses. (Not to mention, he may not have had those even before the injury, given what we saw from him previously.) Have faith in the fact that the Sabres do plan to recall UPL to play again soon, and turn the focus to Thursday’s game against Winnipeg. (The Sabres are off Wednesday.)