Quick Hits: Sabres vs. Kings

Buffalo’s line changes offensively paid big dividends this evening, as the Sabres put up a crooked number on the score sheet against one of the Western Conference’s best teams.

Things started hot and heavy for the Los Angeles Kings. Anze Kopitar entered the Kings offensive zone, with little brush back. Kopitar put a shot directly on net, which was originally saved by Robin Lehner. Marian Gaborik crashed the net, which somehow caused Lehner to lose control of the puck and it trickled into the net. A strange goal for sure.

Kopitar’s 3rd goal of the season, at 3:00 of the first period, put the Kings out front with a 1-0 lead.

Los Angeles would take a 2-0 lead 7:34 into the second period, when Jeff Carter got himself past Rasmus Ristolainen on a breakaway as both teams skated 4-on-4.

Carter’s 13th of the season put Buffalo in a tough spot.

Surprisingly though, not all was lost in Buffalo. Instead of tucking their tail between their legs, the Sabres shot back and lunged at the Kings lead in a big way.

Ryan O’Reilly started off the goal party with a long possession turned nifty backhand over the shoulder of Peter Budaj.

O’Reilly’s 7th of the season, at 9:31 of the second period, brought the Sabres deficit to 2-1.

Minutes later, we saw Jack Eichel take a very harmless shot from the point. Not even sure we would’ve called this one a shot on goal but it got past Budaj, so we’ll give up our argument.

Eichel with the most harmless of shots, as he grabbed his 4th goal of the season. At 13:36 of the second period, Buffalo found themselves tied back at 2-2 with Los Angeles.

A blink of the eye later, a Justin Falk shot from the point deflected off of Brian Gionta and into the net. Gionta’s 7th of the season, at 13:48 of the second period, gave Buffalo a 3-2 lead.

Eichel and Gionta’s goals came only 12 seconds apart, which marked the fastest two-goal burst since Cody Hodgson and Nathan Gerbe’s back-to-back goals on April 9, 2013.

Jack Eichel would get on the board again before the second period came to an end. Eichel skated to slot untouched and unleashed a shot that kissed the bar.

Eichel’s 5th of the season and 2nd of the game, at 15:44 of the second period, would give Buffalo a 4-2 lead. You’d figure that a team would not want to give Eichel that much room to shoot, but that’s just our opinion.

After all was said and done, the Buffalo Sabres scored a total of 4 goals in 6:13. What a way to rally back.

Jeff Carter would draw the Sabres lead back down to one, with a shot from the far hashmarks at the faceoff dot. Carter’s shot beat Lehner glove-side high.

Carter’s 14th goal of the season and 2nd of the game, at 4:03 of the third period, drew the Sabres lead down to 4-3.

Buffalo would add another goal to their lead, courtesy of a beautiful Jack Eichel pass to Evander Kane.

Kane’s 4th of the season, at 15:42 of the third period, pushed Buffalo’s lead to 5-3.

Once Los Angeles pulled Peter Budaj for an extra attacker, the Sabres were able to take advantage again. Sam Reinhart would grab a Rasmus Ristolainen pass and shot it into the empty net.

Reinhart’s 6th of the season, at 19:34 of the third period, locked up a 6-3 victory for the Buffalo Sabres.

This pushes Buffalo’s home record to 8-0-0 in the last eight home games against Los Angeles. The last time the Kings won a game at the KeyBank Center was February 21, 2003.


With this victory, the Buffalo Sabres moves to 11-11-6 on the season, with 28 points in 28 games.

The Buffalo Sabres next take the ice on Friday night, when they host the New York Islanders at the KeyBank Center. Puck drops shortly after 7 PM and the game will be broadcast locally on MSG.

Stop! Quick hits!

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    • Lack of support?

Yes, what you hear is true – the Buffalo Sabres score less goals when Robin Lehner is in net compared to Anders Nilsson.

Buffalo’s offense, as pointed out by our friends over at Two In The Box, “has provided Nilsson 2.44 goals per game” when Nilsson is the goaltender of record. On the flipside, the Sabres output for Lehner in net is 1.84 goals per game, but 2ITB points out, “the offensive output when Lehner is in net is even aided by the six goal outburst in Edmonton, when that game is removed it reveals a grisly 1.61 (goals per game).”

There definitely is no secret that Anders Nilsson has a better 5-on-5 save percentage in comparison to Robin Lehner (95.87% for Nilsson, 92.97 for Lehner), but Lehner has faced 211 more shots than Nilsson. When looking at the simple statistics on the surface, Nilsson (2.38 GAA) and Lehner (2.45 GAA) are just 0.07 goals per game apart from each other. Not much of a difference.

You can try to point fingers in directions as to why the Sabres are statistically better with Nilsson over Lehner but as our guy TJ Luckman points out – the Sabres aren’t necessarily just scoring more with Nilsson in net, they’re just getting luckier offensively with Nilsson in net. Strange, eh?

EDIT: When we point out that Lehner doesn’t get a lot of goal support, the Sabres naturally put up a crooked number in the goal column. Ho hum, we’ll take it either way.

    • The Hit Parade

Ryan O’Reilly approves of Carrier’s attributions.

William Carrier has been a breath of fresh air for the Buffalo Sabres, believe it or not. Many had said that Carrier would end up being a bottom-six forward with a penchant for throwing the body, but he could easily drift up the lineup if his hands showed signs of life.

Although we’ve seen Carrier on the top line with the likes of Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo, Carrier has not played more than 12:48 in any game this season.

Despite the lack of overall playing time, William Carrier is doing exactly what he needs to do in order to be a valuable part to the Buffalo Sabres: William Carrier loves to hit people.

Heading into tonight’s matchup with the Los Angeles Kings, Carrier finds himself in some pretty elite hitting company. Of all NHL’ers who have recorded at least 50 hits this season, Carrier ranks 3rd with 21.43 hits/60. Only San Jose’s Micheal Haley (23.28 hits/60) and Toronto’s Matt Martin (25.48 hits/60) rank higher.

To go a bit further into that statistic, Carrier currently ranks 11th in the NHL (among players who have recorded at least 50 hits) with 3.24 hits/game. As a comparison, Ottawa Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki leads the NHL with 4.64 hits/game.

EDIT: Carrier recorded 4 hits tonight in 11:59 of ice time this evening.

    • Bogo a go-go.

The Buffalo Sabres continue to slowly but surely get healthy. This team has not pushed out their projected opening night lineup yet and we’re halfway through the month of December.

As of tonight’s game, it is the 19th straight game Bogosian will be out with a MCL sprain but he did participate in practice this morning with no limitations.

Adding Bogosian back to the defensive pairings should provide another boost for this Sabres team. While the likes of Brendan Guhle, Taylor Fedun, Justin Falk and Erik Burgdoerfer have combined to provide good relief on the back end, Zach Bogosian on the second pairing will improve things all around.

Once Zach Bogosian returns to the lineup, the last major injury Buffalo will need to overcome is the groin injury ailing Tyler Ennis (hopefully). As for Ennis though, we know he’ll be out a little more extended of a period because of the subsequent surgery required.

    • 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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