Chad Johnson saw the start in net tonight, most likely giving Lehner the night off for the latter half of the home-at-home against Boston this Saturday.
It may have taken a while, but we are finally seeing some more consistent chemistry among Sabres forwards. Marcus Foligno seems to have found a bit of a stride when playing alongside Jack Eichel. Short sample size, yes. But it’s been a while since I’ve heard his name come up so often when we hear the play-by-play call.
Rasmus Ristolainen was the subject of a very iffy interference call with 7:12 left in the first. Coming into his check at the blue line, the puck was dumped past as he was already in motion to complete his hit, giving him 2 minutes to think about what he did in the penalty box.
Evander Kane had an excellent first period. Aside from his goal, him finishing his checks and fighting for the puck were his most obvious strength. Including a good chance on the penalty kill, Evander had multiple shots on goal and good hard defensive play. Something that has been slightly lacking in the last few weeks. Overall, tonight was one of his better (maybe his best) night as a Sabre.
Buffalo exited the ice after the 1st period with the 1 goal advantage and a 6-5 edge in shots on goal.
The Sabres opened up with strong play in the second period that led to an excellent goal from Sam Reinhart.
He battled Zdeno Chara (somehow) in front of goal and tipped a Mark Pysyk wrist shot from the point. Also note that goal doesn’t happen if Pysyk doesn’t fake his first shot, drawing the Bruins defenseman out of position.
But it didn’t take long for Boston to answer.
Just under a minute later, Ryan Spooner took a bouncing puck that slipped through a few pairs of legs right in front of goal that led to an easy tap-in, as Johnson was caught out at the top of the blue paint.
Another young Sabre who looks like he’s finding his way is Johan Larsson. Despite being on the wrong end of some hard hits, Larssson found himself on the doorstep of a few great opportunities. His closest coming in the second period as he clanged a slapshot off the post from roughly 25 feet out.
Buffalo struggled with their first of three powerplays on the night. With one good chance on net, the Sabres’ powerplay struggled to enter the offensive zone.
After the two goals (one by each side) it was a fairly standard second period for both squads. Buffalo was up again 2-1 while Boston led in 19-13 in SOG.
Note: There was a change in goal between the second and third period. Ryan Wolfe took over for Sam and finished off the Bruins/Sabres recap.
Buffalo looked to avoid their usual struggle of crawling into a defensive shell when heading into the third period, but as usual things did not work out so well for the Sabres.
Just minutes into the third period, things would fall apart.
Brad Marchand possessed the puck heading into the Bruins’ offensive zone, and looked to have Zach Bogosian confused in multiple ways.
Bogosian could not grab an edge, which allowed Marchand to skate around him. A timely stick lift by Marchand also helped. Marchand launched a nice backhand at goaltender Chad Johnson, who appeared to have no chance.
Marchand’s 23rd goal of the season, at 2:44 of the third period, tied this game up at 2.
Aside from the aforementioned Marchand backhand snipe, the third period developed into a real dull back-and-forth thing we are legally obligated to call a hockey period.
Overtime called and a winner could still not be found. Chances were available for both sides though. Boston found themselves on an early power play, but Buffalo’s penalty kill was up to the task.
A few minutes later, the Sabres were tasked with trying to score the game-winner on the man advantage. Despite a few good chances, Buffalo could not put the puck in the net.
This game would be decided in a shootout.
In the skills competition, the Boston Bruins proved their skill was much more. In a decisive skill victory, the Bruins grab the extra point as this home-and-home stretch heads back to Boston on Saturday night.
With this shootout loss, the Buffalo Sabres grab a much needed point but their record now sits at 21-26-5, with 47 points in 52 games.
Quick hits are below, take the dive.
There are some nights that Evander Kane absolutely frustrates Buffalo Sabres fans. Tonight definitely was not one of those nights, and the stats back that up.
Evander Kane ended the evening with 1 goal, 11 shots (!!!!!) and 24:00 TOI. What a solid evening from Kane. It seems to me that he is really enjoying being the playmaker on his new line with Gionta and Larsson. Kane has recorded 15 shots in the two games this line has been a thing.
Let’s talk about that goal. What an exchange on the shift with Brian Gionta, who Kane seems to quickly growing a rapport with. That goal was all about not giving up on the play and getting himself into the right position. Take a look again.
Evander Kane good.
- Chad Johnson is good?
This guy has played out of his mind in extra time. Tonight was no different. Watch this save Johnson made on Patrice Bergeron, but don’t look directly into the light..it will burn into your memory.
Chad Johnson save on Bergeron in OT pic.twitter.com/LFv4Afx4Eg
— Stephanie (@myregularface) February 5, 2016
Since Johnson’s workload has decreased, he appears to be a lot sharper when in net.
If the Sabres can find a steady number one goaltender, having Chad Johnson starting every few games might actually turn into a strength for this squad.
- Worst of the worst.
The shootout annoys everyone. How can Dan Bylsma top that annoyance?
He sent out Brian Gionta, Evander Kane and Ryan O’Reilly for the Sabres in the shootout.
Those three players were a combined 0 for the season when they came into tonight’s shootout. They skated out of tonight’s shootout still 0 for the season.
Granted, the Sabres have not had many shootouts this season but c’mon man. Try something! Maybe a Jack Eichel appearance? Or maybe roll the dice with Matt Moulson.
“Shootout specialist” Tyler Ennis is injured, so the Sabres are pretty much screwed. Someone get Ales Kotalik on the line.
I definitely am the old man yelling at clouds right now. Now you know that I’ve officially lost my mind, I am moving on.