Despite having the leagues worst record, Toronto fans still filled HSBC arena in masses large enough to make it sound, at times like a Leafs home game. Thats an embarrasing statement for a Sabres team playing like an elite level team in the NHL.
With about 36 seconds to play, the Maple Leafs scored a controversial goal that went to review, pending contact to the puck with a high stick. As the referee pointed towards center ice I had looked away from the television. From the reaction from the crowd I thought he had waived the goal off, but no, he had indeed pointed to center ice, as RJ and Harry Neil confirmed to my ears.
A very lackluster effort as the Sabres played down to the talent of their opponent, a habit that has lost them winnable games in the past, and almost did the same thing tonight. They allowed the Toronto Maple Leafs a loser point, while this loser point probably won’t come back to bite them later on, it is still a habit that needs to be broken. The Sabres played worse than the Maple Leafs tonight, and if the third period was any indication, did not play like they deserved two points.
Tyler Myers better hope that last night was a fluke game, after his nine game try-out he had undoubtedly his worse outing in the NHL yet, with almost back to back penalties. While the Sabres killed off both of those Leaf power plays, for the first time in ten games, Myers wasn’t helping put this team in a position to win a game, he was helping them self destruct.
There were some nice efforts that made, at times, the fans think that someone in a blue uniform wanted to win last night. Ryan Miller cannot really be faulted for either goal, the first goal he was screened not only by a Maple Leaf allowed to get in front of the net unscathed, but also by his own defensemen. The game tying goal was redirected as the Leafs tallied short handed – the sign of a team desperate for a win.
Mike Grier, while very silent at times last night rushed through two Leaf defensemen in order to force Gustavsson out of the net to play the puck, nulling an icing that would have kept a very tired and trapped Sabres line on the ice.
Trapped in their own end for most of the game after making it 2-1 – it was the Sabres struggling on beggars night for two points, an opposite of what should have been happening against the worst team in hockey.
While Miller and Grier deserve stars for the Sabres, Connolly makes an easy case for one as well. Cherry -picking by not getting back fast enough, he accepted a long pass from Jason Pominville to go in one on one against Gustavsson and fired a shot that the goalie had no chance on.
Overtime ended the same way that outlet pass did, Connolly fired a shot so hard from the point that it sounded to me like it went off the backboards, but rifled by the the other seven players on the ice for the win, something that the Sabres did not really deserve.
Some quotes from the game:
“It’s a huge win for us,” Connolly said. “That’s one of our best wins of the year. They controlled the play for a lot of the game, but to battle through and win, those games are important. You have to be able to win games when there’s not a lot going on.”
That’s not something you want to hear after sneaking a win away from a team that has one win and four points in its last eight game.
“(Miller) grabbed the bull by the horns and did his thing, which was great to see,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
Miller wants to be considered an elite level goaltender, when your team doesn’t show up and your the reason they win, elite. Thank you Ryan Miller.
I would expect to see Patrick Lalime in net tonight as the Sabres play in Long Island tonight against the Islanders, the Sabres lost the last time the back up was in net, and if their play is anything like it was against Toronto, we can expect the Sabres to be 0-2 without Ryan Miller between the pipes.