In the final game before the trade deadline on Monday, a matchup with the Kings could have been the last for some Sabres, including Jamie McGinn.
Robin Lehner was back between the pipes for Buffalo, while Jhonas Enroth got his second start against his former team for the Kings.
Not much happened through the first ten minutes. The Sabres got a power play opportunity at the 14 minute mark, highlighted by Eichel and Kane miscuing on passes to each other.
The most exciting part of the start of the game might have been Steph Curry breaking Twitter during the first period.
Finally some action occurred at the 6 minute mark. The Kings established some zone time and got several good chances on Robin Lehner. Meanwhile both teams were finishing every check. Johan Larsson crunched Jeff Carter, Marcus Foligno labeled Brayden McNabb, and Luke Schenn dropped Justin Bailey in a span of ten seconds.
By the end of the period the Sabres were outshooting the Kings 8-7. Evander Kane, Brian Gionta, and Johan Larsson led the Sabres forwards in ice time.
The score was broken 4:40 into the second period. Tanner Pearson one timed a redirected puck past Robin Lehner, who was already down. It was Pearson’s 9th goal of the season.
The Sabres couldn’t get a lot offensive rushes, excluding the Larsson, Gionta, Foligno line. The trip has been the teams best line over the past few games, and that was still the case. The Sabres best chance in the first half of the period was a nifty drop pass from Larsson to Gionta who blasted a one timer right on.
The Kings scored again with five minutes left, but it was waved off due to a delayed penalty to Dustin Brown. He clearly tripped Johan Larsson which directly led to his being open in the slot for the goal.
In the final minute, Eichel got away from both Dustin Brown and Dwight King, and drew a hooking penalty from King to send the Sabres to the power play.
The Sabres were outshot in the period 15-7.
The most exciting part of the game was with 11 minutes left. Robin Lehner made an incredible save on one end. Just after Eichel, Kane, and Reinhart roared down the ice and were robbed by Enroth on back to back shots.
Lehner continued to keep the Sabres in the game. Making a couple great saves with under ten to play. However, he couldn’t do it for long. Tanner Pearson got his second of the night on a rebound in the slot. Ristolainen failed to tie him up in time or swat the puck away, making it nearly impossible for Lehner to
Now the quick hits:
- Eichel is shooting more
Many have complained that Eichel passes too much, especially on odd man rushes. That was not the case in L.A. He was firing from everywhere. He had a team leading five shots on goal, to go along with several other shot attempts.
- Where is Zemgus Girgensons?
No one will argue that Girgensons is having a bad year. He has just 5 goals and 9 assists through 51 games. Against the Kings he played just 15:34 despite the Sabres missing Ryan O’Reilly. He has fallen out of favor on a top two line spot as well. This year should raise questions about Girgensons long term. After his 15 goal season of the tank squad, many thought his ceiling could be as high as 30 goals in a season. Now it seems like we’d be lucky if he manages 20 at his best. He could even be a candidate to be traded at the deadline.
- Jhonas Enroth shuts out Sabres
I’m sure Enroth feels great about shutting out his former team and getting the win. Enroth had four shutouts in his career with Buffalo. This year he has two shutouts with the Kings to go along with a 5-5-1 record and a .926 save percentage.
- Robin Lehner is really good
The Kings put 35 shots on Robin Lehner, he turned 33 of them aside making another great night in net for him. Lehner is now over a .930 save percentage in 15 games. So far he has backed up Tim Murray’s price of a first round pick for him. If Lehner continues playing like this, he will not only be a capable starter, but a top ten goalie in the entire league.