Quick Hits: Sabres at Senators

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Tonight’s story at the Canadian Tire Center started with Robin Lehner in goal. A 32 save performance from Lehner propelled the Buffalo Sabres to a 2-1 road victory over the Ottawa Senators.

Both Buffalo and Ottawa opened tonight’s game on a frantic rush to set the pace. As the first period continued on, both teams shifted back and forth but neither squad could grab a lead in the first period.

Shots on goal don’t always tell the story, but in the first period they definitely did. Ottawa outshot Buffalo 9-8, in what turned out to be a fairly dull 20 minutes of hockey.

Ottawa would take advantage of a power play opportunity early in the second period. Erik Karlsson passed down low to Bobby Ryan, who found an open Mike Hoffman at the end of a tic-tac-toe play. Hoffman’s 3rd of the season, at 2:42 of the second period, gave Ottawa a 1-0 lead.

Buffalo would not recover for the remainder of the second period, as Ottawa’s attack was stifling the Sabres offensive attack. Although, the third period would be a different story.

A little over a minute into the final frame, Buffalo put themselves on the board.

This particular play began in the corner with Marcus Foligno, who cycled the puck off to Larsson in the area. Larsson exited the corner and moved toward the point. From there, Larsson made a point-to-point pass to Jake McCabe, who unleashed a hot shot.

Kyle Okposo, stationed in front of Craig Anderson, tipped the McCabe effort into the net. Okposo’s 5th goal of the season, at 1:07 of the third period, tied the game up at 1.

Buffalo’s offensive pressure only increased from that Okposo goal.

Minutes later, Zemgus Girgensons takes an innocent shot-on-goal from the half wall. Sam Reinhart taps at the Anderson rebound, right after Craig Anderson missed freezing the puck. Reinhart again tapped at the puck and pushed it past Anderson.

Sam Reinhart’s 2nd goal of the season, at 8:22 of the 3rd period, put Buffalo on top 2-1.

From there, Buffalo absolutely laid on Ottawa and the lead. The second half of the period turned into an all-out effort to hold the Senators off the board, from the bottom up. Buffalo would be successful in their efforts to wrap up a victory, thanks in part to a strong evening from Robin Lehner.

With this 2-1 victory, Buffalo moves their record 5-4-2 with 12 points on the season. The Sabres currently sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference.

Buffalo next takes the ice on Monday evening, when they travel to Boston for the first time this season. Boston hosts the Sabres at the TD Banknorth Garden, with puck drop shortly after 7 PM. The game can be seen locally on MSG.

Now, we move to quick hits.

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    • Welcome to the NHL.

Tonight was an extra special game for Buffalo Sabres forward William Carrier, who was playing in his first career National Hockey League game.

Carrier, acquired by the Buffalo Sabres on February 28, 2014 in the Ryan Miller/Steve Ott deal with the St. Louis Blues, had logged 126 professional hockey games with the Rochester Americans before getting his first call-up.

In his first game, Carrier logged only 6:26 of ice time but was able to record 2 shots, 4 hits, 1 block and a +1 rating.

One would have to assume that Carrier’s ice time and 4th line role will increase with more practice, if Evander Kane isn’t back next week.

    • Robin Lehner, a save machine.

As the season has progressed, Robin Lehner has grown evermore comfortable in the net. Don’t think so? Just watch his play tonight. Lehner was all over the blue paint, making save after save.

Robin Lehner continues to impress many with his play, showing many that there might just be some game-changing ability in him.

Tonight’s game featured a handful of good saves but the above and below tweets show two of the best saves of the game.

Lehner spoke to his success postgame with the assembled media members. “I’m just trying to work on being patient, try to be calm and not throw myself elsewhere. I’m not out of position a lot.”

Even Robin Lehner knows he is on a roll.

    • Improvements all around.

As the season grows older, game-by-game, change is constant. For once, these are good changes. Game-by-game, we notice the Sabres improving offensively, defensively and in goal.

Buffalo’s offensive pressure has become less of a rush here and a rush there but more of a constant offensive pressure. The craziest thing about this all? Buffalo’s offense is improving without Jack Eichel and Evander Kane. When those two get back into the swing of things, oh my.

Defensively, Buffalo has tightented up, even with the loss of Zach Bogosian. I don’t want to sound optimistic with the Gorges/Ristolainen pairing but if it is working for now, no need to fix it. *ducks*

    • More on Lehner.

Dang, man.

    • Tweet of Game

Written by Ryan Wolfe

Ryan Wolfe is the founder and editor-in-chief of BLTD Sports. He can be heard on the BLTD Podcast. Ryan's writing is also featured over at TheHockeyWriters.com.

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