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Sabres Fall Short in Highly Anticipated Season Opener

Oct 12, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (26) skates with the puck during the first period against the New York Rangers at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo shows physicality at home, but struggles to find the back of the net against the Rangers

Score: Rangers 5 | Sabres 1

Shots: NYR 30 | BUF 24

Buffalo Sabres Goals: JJ Peterka (1)

New York Rangers Goals: Alexis LaFreniere (1), Chris Kreider (1-PP, 2-SH), Artemi Panarin (1), Jacob Trouba (1-EN)

Plus 1: A Tearful Tribute

As fans gathered for the first game of the season tonight, they were also presented with the first game since the passing of legendary announcer and beloved Buffalo legend, Rick Jeanneret, who sadly left us back in August. Before the opening period, a heartwarming compilation of Jeanneret’s best moments were shared and his wife Sandra came out with their family for the puck drop. In an obviously emotional start to the night, the pressure was on to honor the late, great RJ in the exact way he would have loved: with a home win. Unfortunately, it did not pan out that way, but more on that later.

Plus 2: Diary of a Wimpy Team No More

The Sabres of the past are definitely just that: in the past. For what felt like forever, Buffalo was known as the small team full of pushovers and zero grit. In 2023? Definitely not. The home team showed tremendous physicality tonight against a very good Rangers opponent. From rookie Zach Benson to Jordan Greenway, it looked as though the whole team was feeling a bit scrappy throughout the game’s 60 minutes. How about that Rasmus Dahlin hit, too? It almost looked like it unfolded in slow motion as he flipped Filip Chytil upside down just past the neutral zone:

Minus 1: Rangers Score Firstand Second…and Third

Despite Sabres goaltender Devon Levi’s best efforts, he gave up a pretty big rebound and found himself out of position early in the first period to give winger Alexis LaFreniere an easy opening for the first goal of the night. Later in that same period, New York would make it 2-0 with a quick goal just 15 seconds into their first powerplay of the night. For the last two seasons, the only other player to have more powerplay goals than Chris Kreider has been Leon Draisaitl. So, it may have been bound to happen, though it did not make it fun for Buffalo fans to watch.

Adding salt to the wound later on would be Artemi Panarin, who scored his 217th NHL goal tonight and gave his team the 3-0 lead.

The Sabres finally answered back thanks to Owen Power’s shot blocked by a New York defender, causing a big opportunity for JJ Peterka to finally give the home team their first goal of the game. This is the second year in a row that Peterka has scored the first goal of the season and also his third consecutive goal against the Rangers.

It would matter not, though, as the Rangers would extend their lead to 5-1 late in the third period with the empty-netter.

Final Thoughts

Was it the game fans were hoping for? Absolutely not. Was it what fans were expecting? Probably not. It is a long season, though, and, while tonight was disappointing, the future still looks bright for this very young blue and gold club. Time to get to work, boys.

Talking Points