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Sabres Battle Back to Tie It in Regulation, Lose to Habs in Shootout

Dec 9, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Montreal Canadiens left wing Juraj Slafkovsky (20) scores a goal on Buffalo Sabres goaltender Devon Levi (27) to win the game in a shootout at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo comes from behind a 2-0 hole to force an OT, but can’t get two points.

Score: Sabres 2, Canadiens 3 (SO)

Shots: BUF: 48 MTL: 31

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Jeff Skinner (12), Kyle Okposo (4), Victor Olofsson (SO), Owen Power (SO)

Montreal Canadiens Goals: Jayden Struble (1), Nick Suzuki (8), Cole Caulfield (SO), Jesse Ylönen (SO), Juraj Slavkofsky (SO)

Plus 1: Skinner Starts the Sabres’ Scoring

After outshooting the Habs for most of two periods, yet down 2-0, Buffalo needed an answer in the final 20 minutes. Thankfully, veteran sniper Jeff Skinner provided one, beating Canadiens’ goalie Cayden Primeau with a wrister just 1:06 into the third period.

Skinner’s 12th goal this season gave embattled Sabres supporters some life, outnumbered as they were by a sea of loud and boisterous Montreal fans. Whenever the Blue and Gold are on the ropes, No. 53 finds a way to get pucks in opponents’ nets. Maybe head coach Don Granato should give the forward some more ice time, especially in shootout situations.


Plus 2: Okposo Evens It Up

Once Skinner cut the Habs’ lead in half, captain Kyle Okposo tied it at 2 apiece five minutes later with an assist from Connor Clifton and Owen Power. Ox hasn’t had many goals in 2023-24 but he made this one count, causing Montreal head coach Martin St. Louis to call a time out to try slow down Buffalo’s strong attack.

The captain’s tying goal was his first since Nov. 27 and makes it his 600th career point. Fans would really like to see more out of No. 21. With the team’s other forward groupings not producing lately, it’s possible Buffalo’s fourth line might get a little more action the way they did in this game.


Minus 1: Poor Power Play Efforts Sink Sabres Again

Buffalo had six power play opportunities in this matchup, including 36 seconds of a 5-on-3 in the first period and an overlapping Montreal penalty during the end of the third and first minute of overtime. The Sabres failed to score on any of them and couldn’t put the game away even though they had plenty of chances to do it throughout the night.

Deploy Savoie had the Comment of the Game: “Not enough urgency on the PP, just take their time, set up, pass pass pass, fumble a pass, pass pass pass. Lucky if in two minutes they take 2 shots, it’s ridiculous.”

Too often when the Blue and Gold have the man advantage, they squander it by wasting too much time setting up a perfect pass, don’t take many shots and have trouble keeping the puck in opponents’ zones. How many times have fans watched them lose control of it and see other teams’ players skate down Buffalo’s ice to get a short-handed chance? Far too many.

Tonight’s loss was a prime example of why the Sabres need to seriously work on scoring during power play situations and why they’ll struggle to climb out of the bottom of the Atlantic Division until they do.

Final Thoughts

The Buffalo Sabres played a strong 60 minutes overall, outshooting the visitors 48-31 and testing Primeau through three plus periods. However, it wasn’t adequate and the visitors left KeyBank Center with two points.

Poor power play production, combined with weak goaltending during critical situations doomed Buffalo’s opportunity to get a two-game winning streak. Devon Levi was good, but not good enough and the team’s PP units were definitely subpar, wasting multiple chances to score goals that could have won the Sabres the game in regulation or even OT.

It’s still only December, but the season will start to slip away if these two things don’t improve soon.

Next up, the Buffalo Sabres host the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night. Puck drop is at 7:00 pm at KeyBank Center.

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