The Buffalo Sabres looked to get their feet wet quick against the Ottawa Senators, in the first of a back-to-back set with Canadian hockey teams, and they were able to do just that.
Zemgus Girgensons had a fantastic offensive scoring opportunity and found himself hauled down by Dion Phaneuf. This play sent the Sabres to the power play.
Sam Reinhart, parked by the net as usual, found himself with the puck. Reinhart was denied on the first chance but would not be denied on the second chance and he popped the puck past Craig Anderson.
Reinhart’s 20th goal of the seasons, at 2:07 of the first period, gave Buffalo an early 1-0 lead.
Buffalo’s lead would unfortunately be short-lived though, thanks in part to poor defensive play. Josh Gorges appeared to miss his assignment and lose his man in front of the net. That man was Alex Chiasson.
Chiasson, untouched, grabbed a loose puck and tapped the puck past Chad Johnson. This goes down as Chiasson’s 6th goal of the season, at 5:33 of the first period.
Buffalo’s fortune would turn for the positive just minutes later, after a failed clearing attempt by Craig Anderson.
Anderson went to cycle the boards with the puck but instead cycled the puck directly to a waiting Ryan O’Reilly.
O’Reilly immediately passed the puck, almost laser like, to a trailing and wide open Nicolas Deslauriers, who made no doubt about depositing the puck past Anderson.
Deslauriers’ 6th goal of the season, at 8:17 of the first, pushed Buffalo back in the lead. With hindsight being 20/20, we know this goal would go in the books as the game-winner.
The Sabres offense would put another goal on the board, but it wouldn’t come until mid-way through the second period.
Jack Eichel possessed the puck in the Sabres’ offensive zone, looking for a way to extend the play. Eichel passed the puck to Sam Reinhart, who was surprisingly stationed around the net. Instead of shooting the puck at an almost impossible angle, Reinhart used his impressive vision to make a fantastic pass. Reinhart threw a very strong pass to a wide-open Zach Bogosian, who beat Craig Anderson.
Bogosian’s 6th goal of the season, and 2nd in two games, put Buffalo up 3-1 at 9:53 of the second period.
Throughout the remainder of the game, Buffalo battened down the hatches and kept Ottawa off of the board. There was a brief scare, when Scott Gomez appeared to score for the Senators but after review, it was determined that the shot deflected off of Gomez’s glove as he appeared to be punching at the shot.
With this 3-1 victory, the Buffalo Sabres move to 29-33-10 on the season with 68 points on the season.
Now, for the quick hits!
- Double Vision.
As you saw above, rookie Sam Reinhart recorded his 20th goal of the season tonight. 20 goals always are a big deal, but for the Buffalo Sabres this is an even bigger deal.
Sam Reinhart's goal is his 20th of the year. He and Jack Eichel are the 3rd pair of BUF rookies ever to record 20 goals in the same season.
— Sabres PR (@SabresPR) March 18, 2016
Hey, maybe that rebuild wasn’t so bad after all! There are more cool stats that the Buffalo Sabres PR staff provided for us.
BUF now has 2+ rookies with 35 pts in a season for the 1st time since 1987-88: Ray Sheppard (65), Pierre Turgeon (42) & Calle Johansson (42)
— Sabres PR (@SabresPR) March 18, 2016
Hot damn. I need a moment.
- Fighting Ristolainen.
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t a REAL fight, more of a hug fest. Either way, Alex Chiasson was not pleased with a hit that Rasmus Ristolainen threw. Instead of standing and not exchanging pleasantries, Ristolainen dropped his gloves and tried to fight Chiasson.
As you can tell by the video above, there wasn’t much of a fight but it looks like Ristolainen landed the only punch of the fight.
Nice to see Ristolainen play with a little more of an edge as the season goes on, but getting into fights all the time will only hurt. This isolated incident certainly wasn’t minded though.
- Lehner, day-to-day.
Bad news came across the wire before tonight’s matchup with the Ottawa Senators. Goaltender Robin Lehner is dealing with an ankle injury, one he re-aggravated during Wednesday’s overtime loss against the Montreal Canadiens.
Dan Bylsma spoke to the media this morning and updated us on the status of Robin Lehner, per Sabres.com. “The high ankle sprain is just one you deal with for a long time. I don’t think at any one point in time he hasn’t been dealing with it since he’s come back. Just with tweaking it in the game in Montreal (March 10th) and again last game (OTL vs. Montreal), it’s just going to give it a few days of rest and see how it goes from there.”
Lehner has started 6 of the Buffalo Sabres’ 8 games this month. It is unknown when Lehner will return to the crease, but he is not expected to miss the rest of the season.
- Let’s recap, shall we?
Jack Eichel & Sam Reinhart now the 8th set of rookie teammates to both get 20 goals in a season over the last 20 yrs pic.twitter.com/Eh3PvBaGdD
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) March 19, 2016
Again, re-building isn’t so bad. This is what we call a “positive step in the right direction”. Quit your bitching, haters. (i love u all)