Quick Hits: Sabres vs. Senators

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Buffalo took Ottawa to the brink tonight at the KeyBank Center, but could not finish the job in a shootout. Despite Sam Reinhart opening scoring in the shootout, Buffalo would fall to Ottawa, 2-1.

The Sabres would open up scoring against Ottawa in the first period, thanks to a clean faceoff win in their own offensive zone.

Where do we begin with this one? A big faceoff win for Derek Grant in the offensive zone. Smart heads up play by Cole Schneider to get the puck back to Nick Baptiste, who made no mistake. Baptiste unleashed an absolute laser past Mike Condon.

As the tweet says, it was a highlight reel goal for multiple reasons: Baptiste’s 2nd goal of the season, Cole Schneider’s 1st career NHL point and Derek Grant’s 1st point with the Sabres.

From here on out, the Sabres offense would go cold. Not surprising, considering the Sabres offense is statistically tied for 28th with 2.00 goals scored per game. Ugly stuff there, get well soon Jack.

Ottawa would even up the score in the second period, thanks to a defensive breakdown in front of Robin Lehner.

Rasmus Ristolainen found himself beat by a striding Ryan Dzingel, and realized it too late. Dmitry Kulikov also found himself to be a revolving door. Dzingel’s coast-to-coast goal goes in the books as his 5th of the season at 7:15 of the second period.

From there on, the game was an absolute snoozefest. We would love to throw big words at you and witty banter, but we can’t sugar coat how dry tonight’s action was.

That is, until overtime rolled up on us.

The Buffalo Sabres recorded 8 shots in overtime to Ottawa’s 0 overtime shots. Buffalo’s shot total falls one shy of their franchise record, set back on February 1, 2000 vs. Anaheim. Also, the 8-0 shot differential ties the franchise record, which was also set back on February 1, 2000.

Zemgus Girgensons almost had a goal in overtime, but bad puck luck results in a roofed puck bouncing off the top and side crossbar. This wasn’t Buffalo’s only chance, but would end up being their best.

In a shootout, only Sam Reinhart could score which posed problems for Buffalo. Ottawa nabbed two goals in the shootout and scooped up the extra point.

With this overtime loss, Buffalo moves to 5-5-3 on the season. Buffalo now has 13 points and sits in 13th place in the Eastern Conference.

Now, to the quick hits!

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    • Make the Sabres Offense Great Again.
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Kane back.

Evander Kane returned to the Buffalo Sabres starting lineup tonight, marking the first time since October 13 that took the ice. Kane, recovering from 4 cracked ribs, lamented pre-game how ready he was to return to the lineup.

“It’s not feeling pretty good but it’s well enough where I can play and contribute,” Kane said to the assembled media before tonight’s game. “I don’t think anything really healed. It’s healed enough where I can play and come back. I’m sure there will be a little bit of pain through the course of the next couple weeks but it’s nothing I haven’t outworked before.”

The Buffalo Sabres look forward to Kane’s offensive reinforcements, despite the rumblings that the Sabres could be shopping Kane to other NHL franchises. According to the Minnesota Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo, “I’ve been told by multiple sources multiple times that there were trade talks. But you can assume that in order to add $5.25 million in salary (even if salary/cap space were retained), it would have to be a “hockey trade”.”

A deal is not imminent but the talks are something to keep in mind, especially with the Expansion Draft coming up next summer. Pieces are surely to be moving and Evander Kane could be on the move.

As for Kane’s return to the lineup tonight..TALK ABOUT TONIGHT’S GAME

    • It hurts when I think.
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Breathe. It’ll be OK.

Hours before tonight’s matchup, Dan Bylsma dropped a hefty nugget onto the media regarding injuries throughout the Buffalo Sabres lineup.

Ryan O’Reilly, who missed the final 2:25 of Monday’s blowout loss to the Bruins, was revealed to have suffered an undisclosed injury in that game. No word on how much time O’Reilly will miss but any absence is very concerning for an already-depleted Sabres lineup. Cole Schneider was recalled from Rochester to replace O’Reilly in the lineup.

Bylsma spoke to the status of Tyler Ennis, who suffered a “mid-body injury”. It is presumed that Ennis’ injury occurred against the Bruins on Monday. The Buffalo News’ Sabres reporter John Vogl dropped a nugget during the game.

What the hell.

Not all news is bad news for the Sabres though.

Evander Kane, as mentioned above, returned to the lineup tonight in place of Tyler Ennis. Hudson Fasching skated with the team on Wednesday morning and is said to be “close” to a return from a groin injury suffered October 30 against Winnipeg. Update: Hudson Fasching was optioned to Rochester (AHL) hours before tonight’s game.

As for Jack Eichel, Bylsma also provided an update this morning. Eichel has hit the 4 week point in his recovery and will be seeing doctors again shortly, with the hope that he will be cleared to skate shortly. Eichel’s prompt return to the ice would be very big for the Buffalo Sabres, but it must be remembered that Eichel is still weeks away and needs to jump through the hypothetical hoops before being cleared for game action.

    • DE-FENSE.

For the most part, Buffalo Sabres defensemen were playing smart hockey. We saw players jumping in offensive rushes, not afraid to try and push the pace of play. Defensively, they look very sound. With each passing game, the defense does finally appear to be improving.

Except that only Ottawa goal, let’s pretend that never happened. Ok?

Tonight’s pairings of Kulikov/Ristolainen, Gorges/Nelson and McCabe/Franson were delicious.

    • 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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