It was an ugly start to a three-game road trip through Western Canada.
On Sunday, the Buffalo Sabres suffered a 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. That was followed by a 5-2 loss in Vancouver against the Canucks the next night.
After a couple of days to regroup and rejuvenate, the Sabres would turn back to Chad Johnson in net against the Calgary Flames on Thursday, who have been red-hot as winners of seven straight games on home-ice.
It was an uneventful first two periods for the Sabres, as the Flames controlled the majority of play in both frames.
No goals were scored in the first period, but the Flames got on the board at the 5:46 mark of the second period thanks to 21-year old, Sean Monahan. Right before the end of the second period, the Flames go up 2-0 after Markus Granlund got free behind the Buffalo defense and put home an easy tap-in.
After two periods, Calgary led 2-0, and out-shot the Sabres 22-14 in the process.
In the third period, it was the “Rasmus Ristolainen Show,” as the 21-year old defenseman showed why he is one of the best young and upcoming defenders in the entire league.
After a Sam Bennett penalty just 55-seconds into the third period, Ristolainen threw a shot towards the net and it found its way through a screen. It was a powerplay goal, and it was Ristolainen’s fifth goal of the season.
Nearly three minutes later, déjà vu. Sam Bennett goes to the box again, and seconds later, Ristolainen rips a slap-shot that beats Hiller on the blocker side to tie the game, 2-2.
Monahan would put the Flames back up 3-2 for his second goal of the night at the 9:25 mark of the third period.
Calgary would hold the lead until, with 5:45 left to go in the game, it was Rasmus Ristolainen getting his third goal of the game to tie the game once again.
Ristolainen ties the game again and completes a hat trick pic.twitter.com/I8AHlrnps1
— Stephanie (@myregularface) December 11, 2015
Finally, it looked like the Sabres could salvage a point out of this dreadful road trip. Well, that feeling did not last long.
Just 55-seconds after Ristolainen had tied the game, Johnny Gaudreau puts one through the five-hole of Chad Johnson to put Calgary ahead 4-3.
Buffalo would put up some good pressure late, but the Flames would hang on to win by a 4-3 final. Now, your favorite part of the recaps, the quick hits:
- Ristolainen in some elite company
No Sabres player had scored a hat-trick in the regular season for the Sabres since Thomas Vanek did it on January 31, 2013 in a 7-4 win over the Boston Bruins. Nearly three years since Buffalo’s last hat-trick in a game. It took a defenseman to end that dreadful drought.
When was the last time a Sabres defenseman scored a hat-trick in a game? January 22, 1988.
Who was this defenseman? Phil Housley.
Housley was just inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and is the only Sabres defenseman in team history to have two hat-tricks with the team.
With another impressive night, Ristolainen now has 21 points on the season in 29 games. Last season, Ristolainen finished the season with eight goals and 20 points in 78 games. Quite the turnaround.
Just remember what we said before the season began:
- O’Reilly still doing great things
Ryan O’Reilly continues to impress in his first season with the Buffalo Sabres.
On Thursday, O’Reilly continuing to pile up the points, adding two more assists on Ristolainen’s first two goals of the third period.
It may have been an off night in the face-off circle, only winning 45-percent of his draws, O’Reilly winning some key draws for the Sabres. This included the face-off in which Ristolainen scored his second goal of the game to tie the contest at two.
O’Reilly maybe does not have the point streak that Chicago Blackhawks forward, Patrick Kane has at 24, but continues to ride a six-game point streak of his own, which includes two goals and six assists.
O’Reilly continues to show why he is so important to this Sabres team, and still leads the team with 25 points in 29 games.
Hey Colorado Avalanche, how’s Nikita Zadorov and Mikhail Grigorenko working out for you?
- Just stop the puck, Chad
Come on Chad. Get help us get a point, will you. Need to stop the puck.
- We’re coming home
Whoever was in charge of scheduling this three-game road trip through Western Canada, you suck.
Even though the Sabres come up empty on their trip, Buffalo gets to return home to face the red-hot Los Angeles Kings at the First Niagara Center on Saturday.
Well, at least it feels good to be home.