(Disclaimer: My laptop decided to not do it’s laptop thing tonight, so this report was completed from my phone. Forgive me for any possible inaccuracies with tonight’s recap!)
The KeyBank Center was the site of tonight’s contest between the Buffalo Sabres and the Carolina Hurricanes. It was only five days ago these two clubs previously met, and it took a shootout to decide the victor. Carolina came out on top over Buffalo,winning 2 to 0 in the shootout.
Only one point separated these two clubs in the Atlantic Division. Carolina currently standing at 13 wins, 11 losses, and 7 overtime/shootout losses. And Buffalo just behind with 12 wins,11 losses, and eight overtime/shootout losses.
Starting goalies for tonight’s matchup where Robin Lehner for Buffalo and Cam Ward for the Hurricanes.
Buffalo began tonight by doing the last thing they ever wanted to do. And that was giving up the first goal early. 1:44 in and a turnover in their own zone led to Jeff Skinner wiring a wrist shot past Lehner’s glove side for the 1-0 lead.
Noah Hanafin was called for hooking shortly after, giving Buffalo the first man advantage of.the night. A successful kill by the Canes penalty kill kept the score 1-0. (Side note: Eich on neither the 1st OR 2nd PP unit) #Wut?
With 2 minutes remaining in the first, Justin Faulk doubled the lead for Carolina. Coming in on a 3-on-1 Faulk fired the puck beyond Lehner’s glove side. 2-0 for the Hurricanes.
Upon leaving the ice, Buffalo was on the receiving end of some boos from the crowd, who are desperate for a solid night on home ice from their team. The Sabres left the ice with a 7-6 lead in shots on goal; as well as dominating in faceoff wins 13-4.
Buffalo opened up the middle frame by allowing the Canes to hold possession and then force the Sabres to take a penalty. Johan Larsson: 2 minutes for holding. A successful kill be the Sabres kept it 2-0.
Kyle Okposo found his way to the box shortly after for an elbowing call. Hey, guys. This isn’t how you find your way out of a 2-0 hole…
Another good kill by the Sabres, and they finally had their first shot of the period nearly halfway through. Not. Good.
Derek Grant was then called for hooking Jay McClement at the 14:13 mark. Another good kill for the Sabres. Still 2-0. As that penalty ended, Jack Eichel was dumped to the ice by Jordan Staal, who was then slashed by Jake McCabe. Staal eventually dropped the gloves with Zack Bogosian. Both received five-minute Majors for fighting, while Jake McCabe earned two minutes for slashing. So, yeah, another penalty kill for the Sabres.
After 2, the Canes kept their 2 goal lead, while the Sabres were spinning their tires going in and out of the penalty box.
At 5:32 of the third period, after being outshot 8-1, the Sabres finally showed signs of life. A metric ton of patience by Sam Reinhart and a quick pass to Johan Larsson in front led to the Sabres finally finding their way into the scoreboard.
With 7 minutes left in the third period, Carolina’s Justin Faulk was called for hooking. Nothing doing for the Sabres, as Carolina blocked every last shooting lane.
With Lehner pulled from his cage, Buffalo tried to get that last goal with the 6 skater on the ice. Sebastian Aho had different plans. Using his speed while fighting off Rasmus Ristolainen for the puck, Aho drove the puck home to give the Canes a 3-1 lead. Game over.
The Sabres continue to impersonate the Titanic, as they dive towards the bottom of the Atlantic. Dropping 3 of 4 points to the Hurricanes, whom were only a single point on top at one point is not how Buffalo wants to head into the holidays.
Looking ahead: Three of the next four games for the Buffalo Sabres will be within the division, as they face the Detroit Red Wings followed by a home-at-home with the Boston Bruins.
Buffalo will waste no time packing, as they head to Brooklyn for a matchup with John Tavares and the New York Islanders tomorrow night at the Barclays Center.
- Powerplay Personnel
Why? Why why WHY wasn’t Jack Eichel on either of the 2 powerplay units while his team was down in the first period? I myself have no answers for that question. How about you, Mr. Bylsma?
- Penalty Kill
Through the first two periods, the Sabres went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. By all means, keep doing that. We all know the struggles of the Buffalo penalty kill as of late, giving up a goal nearly half the time. Tonight was a much different story. Positioning was much better and they found themselves in the middle of shooting lanes.
- The Opening Period…
The Sabres AGAIN gave up the first goal of the game and were could not find any sort of footing throughout. Carolina held the puck with conviction and were able to take advantage of Buffalo’s sluggish start. You can consider the Sabres down and out for nearly 20 minutes as the Canes scored at each end of the first period.
- Goal Support
I feel like such a broken record about this one. Robin lehner has done a serviceable job with keeping this team in games just about every night he’s in between the pipes. This team fails to score so often, he has the right to be visibly frustrated with his teammates.
Sure, he should be able to steal a win here and there. But the Swede stands on his head more often than not. Keeping the opposition to 2 or 3 goals most nights. While his statline isn’t the best, it certainly doesn’t match up with his record on the year.
- Tweet of the Game
I literally could not stop laughing at this one.
I hope Krampus comes and swallows Dan Bylsma whole. #Sabres
— Nico R (@UB_Opethian) December 23, 2016