Quick Hits: Sabres vs. Islanders / at Hurricanes


After a stretch of home-and-road back-to-back games, the Buffalo Sabres come away with 3 out of 4 potential points. For a young hockey team that is finally getting healthy, this could be the beginning of a stretch run that could make or break Buffalo’s early season playoff hopes.

 

In both games, Buffalo should’ve had the upper hand but found themselves to struggle. The Sabres clearly were the better team but could not make the most of their opportunities.

On Friday night, New York scored first on a Ryan Strome goal a little after mid-way in the first. Buffalo wouldn’t wait too long to even things up though.

Early on in the second, Johan Larsson grabbed his 5th goal of the season but the Sabres lead would last a little over 4 minutes. The Islanders grabbed their one-goal lead back, off the stick of Alan Quine.

This time around, Buffalo would trail for a little bit.

Mr. Power Play Goal would tie things back up for the Sabres early on in the third period. Matt Moulson’s 8th goal of the season, and 7th on the power play. What a time he’s having parked out front of the net with the man advantage.

Things would stay tied up until overtime rolled around and our favorite budding superstar Rasmus Ristolainen reminded the NHL that he might not be so bad.

With Ristolainen’s trailer goal (ICYMI: you can see this below), the Sabres grabbed the 3-2 victory and headed out to Raleigh.

Carolina grabbed the lead late in the first period and seriously just hung out with it for most of the game. Buffalo looked like they were skating with concrete in their boots.

It was an offensive embarrassment for the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. Nothing was going right for Buffalo and their offensive pressure was completely non-existent.

With valuable minutes rolling off of the clock late in the third period, Buffalo finally got some offensive pressure in Carolina’s zone. A very good seeing-eye shot along with good hand-eye coordination from Evander Kane resulted in Buffalo’s only goal of the game.

Kane’s 5th goal of the season came off a Jake McCabe point shot. Kane had his stick in the right place at the right time, which resulted in the strong redirection past Cam Ward.

This game ended up heading to overtime, which was dominated by the Hurricanes. Buffalo held on and things would end up being determined by a shootout.

Carolina was just too much for the Sabres in a shootout, taking proceedings 2-0. Buffalo would fall to the Hurricanes, 2-1.

The Buffalo Sabres ended up grabbing 3 of 4 potential points in this back-to-back stretch, which has Buffalo in 14th in the Eastern Conference. With how disastrous the Atlantic Division has been to this point, the Sabres are 4 points out of a playoff spot with 2 games in hand.

After their back-to-back, the Buffalo Sabres find themselves with a few days off and will travel down to Sunrise to take on the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night. Puck drops shortly after 7:30 PM and the game will be locally broadcast on MSG.

Quick hits, now!

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    • Feels like the first time.

This feels relevant.

For the first time since signing with the Buffalo Sabres last offseason, forward Kyle Okposo faced his former franchise in his career.

“This is one game that he (Okposo) did talk about,” Dan Bylsma told media prior to tonight’s game. “I think it’s the same thing. I’m sure he’s going to get on the ice tonight and look at the jerseys and feel a little bit awkward seeing the Islander jersey on the other side. At the same time, he doesn’t need to feel like he needs to go out and do everything himself to win the game against the Islanders tonight. He just needs to go out and play his game.”

Flashing back, Okposo spent the first nine seasons of his NHL career with the New York Islanders where he left as the 14th leading scorer in franchise history. Okposo tallied 369 points (139 goals, 230 assists) in 529 games with the Islanders.

In exactly 19 minutes of ice time, Okposo recorded 1 assist against his former team.

“It was strange, to be honest with you,” Okposo said postgame to assembled media. “So many times you play with those guys. I know exactly what they’re going to do. … It was an odd game, an odd feeling.”

Fun fact: Kyle Okposo has now played against every active NHL franchise. He’s also recorded a goal against 27 NHL teams – LAK / NYI / VAN are only 3 Okposo is scoreless against.

      • Rasmus the God.

Remember when Rasmus Ristolainen was considered the biggest bust by all those wonderful NHL analytics people on the Tweetbots?

Yeah man, maybe according to some fancy stats he still isn’t the greatest in a aspects but Ristolainen continues to develop into a star.

Here’s how Ristolainen’s stats add up after the weekend games:

Friday vs. New York – 26:56 time on ice, 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist), +2 rating, 3 shots on goal, 4 hits and 3 blocks

Saturday vs. Carolina – 25:18 time on ice, 0 points, +1 rating, 1 shot on goal, 1 hit and 1 block

    • Bogo Back.

Zach Bogosian returned to the Buffalo Sabres lineup for the first time in 20 games, on Saturday night. While Bogosian’s replacements had been playing relatively well, the Sabres will definitely benefit from his return.

On Saturday night, Bogosian logged 21:17 time on ice and logged 3 hits with 3 blocks.

For the first time in a long time, the Sabres were able to trot out their original top 6 of: Ristolainen, McCabe, Kulikov, Bogosian, Gorges and Franson. The defensive return to health is fantastic news.

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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