Quick Hits: Canucks vs. Sabres

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For the first and only time this season, the Buffalo Sabres played host to the Vancouver Canucks.

You know what this one means? Former Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller returning to his old stomping grounds. More about that in a few minutes.

Vancouver started off strong, which came off as a decent surprise because the game takes place at 10 AM Vancouver time, so a little lag in the Canucks’ skating was to be expected. On the same wavelength, Vancouver has been on the East Coast for a few days at the time of their road trip, so maybe this was not an issue at all. Let’s just throw crap at a wall and see what sticks, ok?

Anyways, onto the actual game.

The Canucks had a pretty good hold on the first period, exiting with a 15-4 stranglehold on shots and the corsi numbers were not much better.

Thankfully for Buffalo’s sake, the game was scoreless after 20 minutes.

Once the second period took off, so did the Buffalo Sabres.

A beautiful shot from Pysyk at the point would find Jamie McGinn in the right place at the right time. McGinn would push the puck past Ryan Miller for the first goal of the game.

McGinn’s 3rd goal of the season came at 2:18 of the second. Buffalo’s momentum would not be stopped there.

Less than six minutes later, a seeing-eye laser shot from Rasmus Ristolainen at the point would find its way through Ryan Miller. Ristolainen’s 2nd of the year put Buffalo up 2-0 at 8:10 of the second.

Forward momentum continued for Buffalo, until someone on the Sabres thought leaving Henrik Sedin alone was a p good idea.

I can now confirm, it is a very, very bad idea.

Henrik from Daniel and Ben Sutton pulled Vancouver within 1 at 13:33 of the second.

After two periods, the Corsi stats were bad, bad, bad for the Buffalo Sabres. Vancouver held the edge 45-19 heading into the third period.

The trend of living dangerously continued for Buffalo as the third began. Unfortunately, the Sabres were unable to get their act together. Save after save for Linus Ullmark and the defense was just not there.

Christopher Higgins was able to take advantage of this, as he shoved home a loose puck that looked like it had bled through Ullmark’s pads. Higgins’ 1st goal of the season tied the game up at 10:15 in the third.

This game looked like it had fully slipped out of the Buffalo Sabres’ fingers. but as the Sabres continued to hang on by the skin of their teeth, the overall momentum was quietly shifting in Buffalo’s direction.

Fast forward to the final 25 seconds of the game when noted puck handling enthusiast Tyler Ennis entered the Sabres zone.

Many fans had seen this happen before. Ennis enters the zone, tries too hard to make something happen and the potential play becomes a dud.

This play happened differently. Ennis skated deep into the zone, which attracted two Canucks players. Ennis tried to shoot/put the puck on net or pass the puck to Foligno, this part was difficult to determine. Either way, Foligno gets the puck almost directly onto his stick. Credit where it is due, Foligno made a perfect pass back up to Ristolainen. I’m going to let RJ take it from here.

Rasmus Ristolainen is bae. I love him so much. What a shot, what a release. Don’t forget, he’s only 21. We are all winners.

With this improbable victory, the Buffalo Sabres pull to 6-8-0 on the season with 12 points. Buffalo sits at 7th in the Atlantic Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference.

The Sabres take the ice next on Tuesday night when they close out their season series with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hooray us!

Now, the moment you have been waiting for:

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      • Buffalo had no business winning this.

From about 10 minutes into the game, we all started to realize that the Vancouver Canucks came to play hockey this afternoon. As the game progressed, it was more and more evident that Buffalo was sleepwalking throughout the duration of this matchup.

Following the 3-2 victory, head coach Dan Bylsma lauded his “shutdown pair” of Ristolainen and Gorges because they were able to lock the Sedin twins down.

While yes this is the truth, for the most part, that Ristolainen and Gorges shut down the Sedin’s line but they played very poorly overall.

Looking back at the fancy stats, the picture is very bleak for that pair. Gorges was a -12 Corsi for the game, Ristolainen a -11. Yuck, dude. That’s some bad hockey.

The Sabres, as a team, were out attempted 64-33. Another sign that tells us Vancouver was certainly the better team this afternoon.

How’d the Sabres win this one, you ask? The answer is simple: goaltender Linus Ullmark.

“He (Ullmark) was the best player on the ice,” said head coach Dan Bylsma. He was not wrong. Ullmark stopped 35 of 37 shots and made some incredible saves in the process.

This kid is good, and also very fun to watch. That sentence was very informative. You’re welcome.

    • Ryan Miller, back in Buffalo.

For the first time since his trade to the St. Louis Blues on February 28, 2014, Ryan Miller returns to the First Niagara Center to take on the Buffalo Sabres.

This is the Ryan Miller of a franchise-record 540 games played and 284 wins.

Excuse me, friends.

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This is the second time Miller has started against the Buffalo Sabres, with the first start happening in Vancouver last January.

From the opening puck drop, there was a buzz in the air. Miller had gotten a very warm ovation in warmups and when he was announced as the starting goaltender for the Canucks.

Shortly after the game started, we got our first TV timeout. As you may know, this is where the former player tributes come.

And we’re off.

I literally can’t even with this video. The arena was electric, not a word of the video could be heard.

THE FEELS ARE STRONG WITH THIS ONE.

Don’t believe me? Watch this video.

I thought I was ready for this moment, I really did. Prepared myself all week. Thought about it on the train ride in, on the walk to the arena and on the ride up the elevator to the press box. Nothing could’ve prepared me for that.

Tell me I’m overdramatic, I can hear your eyes rolling at me right now as you read this sentence.

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Judge me, I don’t care. I love Ryan Miller.

    • Eichel Tha Gawd.

Every single day the Buffalo Sabres have Jack Eichel on their roster, it is a good day.

Today was no different.

Except today, Jack Eichel decided to do something he has never done before. Eichel not only recorded his first career assist, but he also recorded his first career multi-point game.

Jack Eichel is v good at hockey, and we are so #blessed.

Written by Ryan Wolfe

Ryan Wolfe is the founder and editor-in-chief of BLTD Sports. He can be heard on the BLTD Podcast. Ryan's writing is also featured over at TheHockeyWriters.com.

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