Sabres Fall Short in Shootout

<em>Buffalo blows third period lead, can’t close out game. </em>

Score: Sabres: 3 Canadiens: 4 (SO)

Shots: BUF: 33 MTL: 41

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Lukas Rousek (1), JJ Peterka (10), Riley Stillman (1)

Montreal Canadiens Goals: Jordan Harris (4), Alex Belzile (6), Brendan Gallagher (6), Michael Pezzetta (SO Winner)

Plus 1: Rousek Rips First One In

After Jordan Harris scored a backhander on Eric Comrie just 1:22 into the first period, Lukas Rousek answered back two minutes later to tie the score at 1. No. 13’s first NHL goal calmed Buffalo fans’ frayed nerves and shifted the matchup’s early momentum. The Sabres spent the rest of the period playing aggressive hockey and trying to wear down Habs’ goalie Jake Allen, instead of skating around deflated.

Plus 2: Peterka Ties it Again

The Canadiens struck back at the start of the second period, when Alex Belzile’s wrister made it 2-1 Habs. Less than two minutes later, during Buffalo’s third power play, JJ Peterka got a wrist shot of his own to tie the score once more.

Peterka’s 10th goal this year was his first since March 15th. With nine games left in the regular season, maybe No. 77 has a few more magic shots up his sleeve.

Plus 3: Stillman Scores His First

Rousek wasn’t the only Buffalo player to get his first goal as a Sabre. Three minutes after Peterka’s tying wrister, Sabres defenseman Riley Stillman beat Allen with assists from Olofsson and Rousek to give the Blue and Gold the lead for the first time in the night.

In Tage Thompson’s absence, players such as Rousek and Stillman stepped up to keep the Sabres’ scoring alive. Good teams learn to adjust when injuries happen and it was great to see Stillman add to the host team’s production.

Minus 1: Buffalo Blows Third Period Lead

After Stillman’s goal made it 3-2 Sabres, Montreal turned up the pressure in the third, outshooting the hosts and playing very aggressively in Buffalo’s zone. At the 11:25 mark, Brendan Gallagher tied it 3-3, with assists from Jake Evans and Jesse Ylonen.

Don’t Blame Me had the Comment of the Game: “I knew it was coming.” Too often this season, the Sabres get a lead in the first 40 minutes and then let their opponents back in the game in the final 20. Fans can’t relax when Buffalo’s ahead and the team has a bad habit of stepping off offensive pressure and losing third period leads.

If the Blue and Gold hope to keep their playoff drought from turning into a baker’s dozen, they need to play 60 minutes of consistent, aggressive hockey, something they’ve failed to do in 2022-23.

Minus 2: Refs Call Questionable Penalty on Sabres Once Again

The game remained tied at the end of regulation and went to overtime. With 2:20 left in OT, the refs sent Peyton Krebs to the box for two minutes on a Kirby Dach cross-checking penalty. The call was questionable, but the zebras put their thumb on the scales and screwed the Sabres once again, something they’ve done a lot over the years.

Buffalo managed to kill the penalty, but the PK took up almost all the remaining OT period and led to a shootout that the Sabres, with their weak netminding, couldn’t win.

It’s one thing if opponents beat Buffalo legitimately, but too often, on-ice officials (and sometimes NHL higher-ups) penalize the Sabres while giving other teams a pass. It’s bad enough when it’s in regulation, but it’s even more galling when it’s in overtime. Sabres fans want fairness from the NHL and season after season, never see it.

Final Thoughts

While some Sabres supporters still hold out hope for a playoff run, most have resigned themselves to watching other teams compete in the postseason for the 12th straight year. The Blue and Gold have made a lot of progress this season, but glaring weak spots, especially defense and goaltending, keep dooming Buffalo’s May and June hockey hopes.

The Buffalo Sabres enjoy a three-day break before hosting the New York Rangers on Friday night. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m.