The Buffalo Sabres were looking to add another two points on top of the two they had earned two nights prior, as the Calgary Flames visited the Keybank center for the second and final match-up between the two squads. Calgary came out victorious on the 18th of October by a score of 4-3 in overtime. Not one, but two of the bigger young names in the league were absent from tonight’s gmae. With Jack Eichel still recovering from his high ankle sprain, and Johnny Gaudreau dealing with a broken finger from a “brilliant” hack-n-slash performance by the Minnesota wild.
I always seem to take for granted how I think local fans will always dominate attendance. But, just like when Pittsburgh came to town, the influx of red jerseys and other Flames memorabilia peppered the stands quite a bit.
I’ll say this one more time for all the Sabres fans out there… HOME ICE ADVANTAGE IS A REAL THING.
Brian Elliot got the call for Calgary in net. Elliot has not fared well as of late. White losing his last 5 decisions, and posting a goals against of over 3, he was desperately looking to find his way back in the win column. Lucky for him, Elliot is 4-0 against the Sabres. Robin Lehner got the call for Buffalo at the opposite end. With several strong performances throughout most of his season, Lehner was hoping for some offensive support to coincide with his typically busy night in goal for Buffalo.
Buffalo opened up the game with good pace, but it was Calgary who found the back of the net first. After failing to even register a shot on goal during a 4-on-2 break, Calgary showed the Sabres how it’s done immediately after with a 3-on-1 break. Mikael Backlund with a layup goal thanks to a saucer pass by Michael Frolik. TJ Brokie committed the first offense of the night with a tripping penalty behind his own net. Buffalo was looking to soon get a kick-start to some goal scoring, but to no avail.
Through the first 10 minutes of the first period, the Sabres controlled the puck well. With a handful of decent scoring opportunities, Buffalo looked confident with the puck. Most noticeable from the Sabres was their decisiveness with the puck. Nearly every skater in a blue sweater found their target, be it a pass to a teammate or shot on goal.
Buffalo continued throughout the rest of the period with good chances, but also a few defensive lapses. After 20, Calgary lead Buffalo by a score of 1-0. While the Sabres led in shots, 13-9.
After just over 2 minutes of play in the second, the Flames found themselves down a man for the second time tonight. Matthew Tkachuk with an illegal hit to the head that led to a scrap between lines at center ice shortly after. The first minute of the man-advantage did not fair well for the Sabres. Terrible passes through the neutral zone led to Calgary finding the puck and dumping it straight back to Robin Lehner. The Sabres did eventually find a groove, but weren’t able to convert.
Following nearly every whistle, there was a disagreement between players of each side. Evander Kane and Rasmus Ristolainen found themselves in the middle of scraps more often than not.
During a short break in the second, the cameras found Bills QB Tyrod Taylor lounging in a suite, which was soon followed by a roar by the fans. Sunday was a good day.
At the 8:42 mark of the second, Johan Larsson earned 2 minutes for slashing and Hunter Shinkaruk also earned 2 minutes for Calgary.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!!!
With 40 seconds left in the previous offenses, the Flames earned another 2 penalties. Troy Brouwer with a tripping minor, and Dougie Hamilton a slashing minor. An 80 second 5-on-3 opportunity for the Sabres.
Just like that, the Sabres tied it at one. Some fantastic passing in the offensive zone led to Kyle Okposo burying a pass from Sam Reinhart. Fun fact: Before I finished typing that last sentence, the Sabres scored AGAIN!!! WHAT KIND OF TWILIGHT ZONE WAS I PLACED IN?! Johan Larrson with a tip off an Evander Kane shot, and Buffalo found themselves in the lead.
Now at this point, I was relatively annoyed because Buffalo decided to score AGAIN before I finished type that last sentence as well. C’mon, guys. For me to report this, I have to actually SEE the goals! Kyle Okposo added an assist to his night, by passing the puck across the Calgary goal. Matt Moulson was on the receiving end and made no mistake. 3-1 Sabres. It’s nothing short of a giant sigh of relief to see Moulson back on the scoring sheet this season, as he’s already two goals short of his last season total from last year.
The Sabres had a second period full of powerplay chances, and took full advantage of it. All three goals with the man-advantage, and a crowd full of life had Buffalo going into the 3rd period with a 3-1 lead.
The Flames needed a quick response in the third period, and they got it. Just 22 seconds in, Dougie Hamilton fired a slap pass to Matthew Tkachuk, who put it past Robin Lehner. But it didn’t take long for Buffalo to punch back. Marcus Foligno with virtually no angle slipped a puck between the skate of Elliot and the post with a soft backhand shot. When I mean no angle, I mean LITERALLY no angle. This puck looked like it had no business going into the goal. But Marcus had different ideas. Assist by Sam Reinhart.
Buffalo rode the rest of the way with a two goal lead, and earned their two points at the final buzzer with a 4-2 win. Buffalo will next host the floundering Detroit Red Wings this Wednesday night from the KeyBank center.
First off, I would like to thank Ryan for putting me on the credential list. Such a great experience. Second, I would like to thank the Sabres for scoring! A great performance offensively by Buffalo led to 3 goals with the man-advantage. Seeing Matt Moulson score his sixth of the year is showing that he wasn’t ready to be bought out by the organization during the offseason.
- Defensive Communication
The Sabres were good on defense for the most part. But at times, they were just OK. Calgary did find open looks and a couple odd man rushes, which leads me to believe that this team will continue to see defensive changes throughout the season. Casey Nelson will probably come back to Buffalo after some more grooming in Rochester. But this team is sloooow on the blue line. Stay-at-home defensemen are fine. I have very little issue with the concept of one. But this team certainly could use another dynamic skater on the blue line.
- The Legend of Taylor Fedun
OK, so it doesn’t have the same ring as Kiko Alonso, but the 28-year-old from Edmonton, Alberta seems to be fitting right in with Buffalo. With 4 points in his last 3 games (4A), Fedun is certainly showing his worth in helping this team find the scoreboard. Now we just need to see a goal from him (and the rest of the defensive corps), and I will be very happy with him.
- Goal Scoring = Happy Goalie
Robin Lehner finally got the goal scoring support he deserved. For the first time in 3 weeks, the Sabres were able to score more than twice. Last time, you ask? October 30th versus Winnipeg. That crucial third goal has been hard to come by for the Sabres this year. But when they do score 3 or more, Buffalo is 5-0-2. That’s a massive difference from the 2-8-2 record they hold when scoring less than 3. Lehner finished the night making 29 saves on 31 shot attempts.
- Foligno Threads the Needle
Yupp… He scored from THERE.
That was magical. 😏
Our moose beats their moose. 4-2 Sabres. pic.twitter.com/gRVfTjnZht
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) November 22, 2016