The Buffalo Sabres wrapped up the 2015-16 NHL season in dramatic fashion, taking their 81st point from the New York Islanders in overtime.
Things started off slow for both franchises. As hockey goes, opportunities were exchanged but nothing came to a head in the first 20 minutes. Both Buffalo and New York stayed off the score sheet and moved to the second period with the game scoreless.
New York took a 1-0 lead early in the 2nd period, when a Scott Mayfield shot snuck through traffic in front of the net and slipped through the arm of goaltender Linus Ullmark. Mayfield’s 1st goal of the season, and 1st of his career, put the Islanders up just 2:03 into the second.
It would not take Buffalo long to match New York’s goal and the goal would come from an unlikely source.
Sam Reinhart struggled to keep the puck in the zone but was able to find Jack Eichel. Eichel noticed that Matt Moulson was stationed right in front of the net. Eichel passed the puck to Moulson who tipped it past Christopher Gibson. Moulson’s 8th goal of the season, at 5:10 of the season, tied the game at 1.
Buffalo’s 2nd goal of the evening would continue the trend of “unlikely goal scorers”. Ryan O’Reilly dished the puck to Evan Rodrigues, who displayed his ability to stick handle as he worked his way around a few Islanders. Rodrigues then threw a powerful shot on net, which blew past the Islanders’ goaltender. This goal, at 17:57 of the second, goes in the books as Rodrigues first of the season and first of his career.
The third period began with Buffalo leading 2-1, but a brain cramp by goaltender Linus Ullmark would make that lead disappear. Ullmark found himself way, way too far out of the net trying to play the puck and he turned it over to Bracken Kearns. Kearns got the puck to Alan Quine who was stationed right in front of an empty net. Quine’s first goal of the season goes in as his first career goal at 2:07 of the third.
Minutes later, the Buffalo Sabres again took a one-goal lead on an absolute rocket of a shot from Brian Gionta. Hudson Fasching found an accelerating Brian Gionta up the wing. Gionta entered the offensive zone and launched an absolute rocket of a shot. Gionta’s shot grabbed the back of the net and goes in the books as his 11th of the season. At 5:57 of the third period, Buffalo took a 3-2 lead.
Late in the third, a Calvin de Haan shot found its way to Linus Ullmark. The shot did not beat Ullmark but it setup a good rebound for John Tavares. One of the best scorers in the game could not be stopped. Tavares tapped in his 33rd goal of the season at 13:34 of the third period. This goal would end up sending us to overtime.
For the final time of the season, the Sabres tried to gain the extra point in overtime. While it seemed that the Islanders were trying to not give a 100% effort in overtime so they could essentially pick their own matchup for the playoffs, the Sabres would not be cheated.
Evan Rodrigues was able to get the puck up to Mark Pysyk, who continued to show us why he is part of this team’s long-term future. Pysyk passed the puck to Brian Gionta, from behind the goal line. Gionta was left wide open in front of the net, and this one was a no doubter. Gionta’s 12th goal of the season allows the Buffalo Sabres to close their season on a high note with a 4-3 overtime victory.
No more talk, quick hits.
- Evan the Jet.
First goal of his National Hockey League career and first multi-point game in his second game ever. What a night for rookie Evan Rodrigues. As the season has gone on, the Buffalo Sabres have done a good job of sprinkling in young talent.
While some of the guys are not ready for the show, the exposure is never a bad thing. When players are not ready for the NHL, exposure can show the player how they need to get better and where they need to get better. A very good thing to show a player before the offseason rolls around.
Either way, Rodrigues has his first goal in the books and hopefully many, many more to come.
- Hockey over.
Shit, it just hit me. This really sucks. I am sad.
- Gionta Tonight.
Man, what a weird way to close out the season for the Buffalo Sabres. Brian Gionta, of all people, picks game 82 to score two goals and push the Sabres over the playoff-bound Islanders.
Possibly Gionta’s final game as Buffalo Sabres captain (hey there, ROR) is capped off in incredible fashion.
For one night at least, it is indeed GIONTA TONIGHT.
- 27 points.
Last season, the Buffalo Sabres ended the season with a measly 54 points. With today’s victory, the Buffalo Sabres end the season with 81 points. For those without the ability to math, that means the Buffalo Sabres have a 27 point improvement in one season, and the team racked up 12 more regulation victories than last season.
Look, we all have had our own predictions but it seems absurd to think Buffalo could’ve improved THIS much.
The more you hear GM Tim Murray talk about this team being just a few pieces away from solid playoff contention, the easier it gets to believe.
- Thanks for the support.
This has been a fantastic first season for us at BLTD Sports. Thank you all so, so much for the continued support.