Sabres Get a Point, Can’t Snag Two in Shootout

<em>Buffalo ends four-game road trip with seven out of eight. </em>

Score: Sabres 2, Wild 3 (SO)

Shots: Buffalo: 31 Minnesota: 35

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Jack Quinn (8), Zemgus Girgensons (5), SO Goal:Tage Thompson

Minnesota Wild Goals: Joel Eriksson Ek (18), Jared Spurgeon (9), SO Goals: Mats Zuccarello, Kirill Kaprizov, Frederick Gaudreau

Plus 1: Quinn Scores First

Jack Quinn opened up the scoring 2:22 into the first period with a wrister past Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Quinn’s eighth goal of the season was his first in more than five games. No. 22 is not usually as productive getting pucks into opponent’s nets as other Sabres forwards.

Playing on Buffalo’s fourth line in this matchup, Quinn probably wasn’t expected to make a lot of magic happen on the ice. That made his game opener all the more meaningful. Good teams don’t just rely on their top lines to generate their entire offense. Maybe Quinn and his linemates can change that going forward.

Plus 2: Girgensons Gets a Goal

Zemgus Girgensons has even fewer goals than Quinn this season. Midway through the second period, after the Wild tied it up on a Jacob Bryson high-sticking penalty in the first, Girgensons gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead with assists from Okposo and Krebs.

No. 28 is another forward that hasn’t had a high-scoring season, so it was great to see him get his fifth of the year and help Buffalo grab another point in the standings. The Sabres need more players to step up if they hope to end their playoff drought. Girgensons could be another piece of that puzzle.

Plus 3: Thompson Takes it to Fleury

One of the Sabres’ top goal scorers got Buffalo’s lone puck past Fleury in the shootout. TNT skated slowly up the ice, sped up at the last second and beat the Wild netminder with a quick shot. Thompson’s skills in scoring, puck handling and possession keep improving the longer he plays.

While he didn’t get any goals in regulation tonight, he’s always dangerous when he has the puck on his stick and opposing goalies can never be too comfortable when No. 72 is around.

Minus 1: Poor PP Effort

The Sabres have been notoriously weak with the man advantage in recent years. They improved quite a bit earlier this season, but now it looks like they’ve reverted to falling flat whenever they get a five-on-four for two minutes.

Buffalo’s only PP opportunity came 10:12 into the first period, on a Connor Dewar high-sticking against Jeff Skinner. The Sabres barely got any shots on goal and spent most of the man advantage struggling to control the puck and keep it in the Wild’s zone.

The Sabres currently rank an NHL fifth in power play scoring. While that’s good compared to past seasons, it’s not good enough. The PP effort in this game was pathetic and it’s something the team really needs to fix.

Final Thoughts

WhatGoesAround had the Comment of the Game: “Tough loss in the shootout, but a strong game and got 7 points on the trip.” Buffalo battled the Wild for more than 60 minutes, not giving up and fighting until the very end. As Rob Ray said on MSG’s broadcast, getting a point here was huge.

The Sabres beat three of four road opponents and forced the third-ranked Minnesota Wild into a shootout. Buffalo came home with seven out of a possible eight points. While we all wanted them to get the extra one in this game, the team didn’t fall apart or blow a lead in regulation.

The Sabres get a few days off before hosting the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday, Feb. 1 at KeyBank Center. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.