The Bandits played the Washington Stealth last night at the First Niagara Center aka Bandit Land in front of nearly 15,000 fans, they quickly jumped in front of the Stealth 1-0, but like in the past 2 games for the Bandits they don’t hold the lead very long. Their passing was off which lead to numerous turn overs which lead to great scoring chances and 3 or 4 goals. The best Bandit last night was Luke Wiles (follow him on Twitter @LWilezy) he had 4 goals and 1 assist in his first appearance against his old team. Wiles has been one of the best players for the Bandits every game and he showed that his is a valuable part of this club. Kevin Buchanan was another guy last night that played like his job depended on it, he only had 2 assists but he created turnovers. Buffalo trailed 9-8 going into the 4th quarter when the first star of the night Wiles slipped one by the Washington goalie Richards to tie it at 9, 1:12 in. It was only 9 seconds later when the Stealth’s best player Rhys Duch put them back in the lead, Duch had 4 goals, 4 assists, and 13 shots on goal in their overtime win. The Bandits tied it at 10 which lead to overtime, now overtime in the NLL is like that in the NHL, 15 minutes just like the 4 quarters, first team to score wins. Well that first team to score happened to be the Washington Stealth and the player was Duch, that win was the first for the Stealth. This has happened far to often this season for the Bandits, they lost last Friday to the Minnesota Swarm who also hadn’t won a game until the Bandits rolled into town. The Bandits need to figure out what is wrong because they can’t keep falling in the standings if they want to make the playoffs and take home field advantage. There was a scary moment during the 4th quarter when Mat Giles layed out Stealth player Beers, that happened right in front of my seat and it was a very hard hit. Beers immediately grabbed his shoulder which looked to be dislocated, he did come back for overtime but didn’t play much, no word on what the injury was but I was glad to see him back after that hit.
The Sabres on the other hand have come out of the All Star break and have played extremely well. It looks like they all needed a little down time to get their heads on straight. Ryan Miller has played out of his mind good in the past 4 games and that is what he needed to get back on track, he is beginning to look like his old self and that is what the Sabres need if they have any chance at making the playoffs. Paul Gaustad has played extremely well, grabbing the tying goal last night and having a goal and 2 assists in the game against Montreal. He’s not just good at faceoffs anymore people he is becoming a scoring machine…kinda. And what can you say about Jason Pominville? Captain Clutch, he was a great choice to wear the C on his jersey. I can’t imagine where this team would be without him. Hopefully the Sabres will have Thomas Vanek back on Tuesday when they take on the Boston Bruins in front of the home town crowd. That will be the first game of a very important 4 game home stand. The Sabres need to get at least 6 out of a possible 8 to remain within striking distance of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Right now they are 10 points behind with 30 games to go. I think it is possible if they can stay healthy and keep playing like they have been since the break. Keep in mind the trade deadline is on February 27 at 3, we will see if the Sabres can better their team to make the playoffs and maybe even a long playoff run. We will see.