Sabres Burn Out in Rough Loss to Flames

Everything fell apart.

Score: Sabres 2 | Flames 7
Shots: BUF 23 | CGY 40

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Tage Thompson (35), Casey Mittelstadt (8)

Calgary Flames Goals: Jakob Pelletier (1), Mikael Backlund (10), Dennis Gilbert (1), Nazem Kadri (20), Tyler Toffoli (20, 21), Dillon Dube (13)

Plus-1: Finding A Way

The Sabres returned from their All-Star break and subsequent bye week and began Saturday afternoon’s game on an okay footing. On one hand, they weren’t able to get many shots on net - only three in the entire first period. You don’t need me to tell you that isn’t sustainable, or any sort of way to win. On the plus side - if there is one? - two of those three shots went in.

Tage Thompson’s absolute laser of a shot found its way in, and Casey Mittelstadt beat the goaltender clean, with no screen. The two goals were great efforts from those players, and the Sabres were lucky to come out of the first period with a 2-0 lead despite being outshot 11-3.

Minus-1, 2 and 3: An Utter Collapse

As I said, the Sabres were lucky to come out of the first period with a 2-0 lead. The little luck they had absolutely ran dry in the second period, and things completely collapsed. Calgary scored three times in the first five minutes to tie the game and take the lead, and they never looked back from there. A few minutes later, they scored again. All of a sudden, the Sabres were very much behind, failing to put shots on net or find the back of it. They gave up 23 shots on goal in the second period, which speaks volumes about just how lopsided things got.

There was also a moment where the Flames near went up 5-2, and I’m still not sure how they didn’t score on that play. It was pure chaos, frantic hockey, from one end to the other. If I’m Don Granato, I’m calling my timeout then to give the players a chance to settle. But on we played.

The third period didn’t get any better, though the Sabres did squeak out 14 shots on goal to Calgary’s six. The bad news: half of the Flames’ shots went in that period, with three goals on six shots. Yikes, yikes, yikes. It just continued to go from bad to worse.

Final Thoughts

To put it bluntly: this can’t happen for a team trying to fight their way into their playoffs. This is not how a playoff-caliber team plays; you’ll be eaten alive in the postseason, if you even make it there. Every game is a big one for the Sabres going forward at this point in the season, and this was a big disappointment. What could’ve been - and even started off maybe looking like - a sharp return from the All-Star break and bye week turned into the team looking like it belonged on vacation instead.

Next up, the Sabres head to California for a three-game road trip that starts Monday night at 10:30 p.m. in Los Angeles.