The Sabres have never had much luck against Ilya Kovalchuk, and last night’s match-up was no exception, as the Russian sniper had three goals and one assist as the Devils beat the Sabres 4-1.
The lone goal by the Buffalo team was originally credited to Thomas Vanek, but was switched shortly after to Jason Pominville. Vanek’s goal would have broken the tie for 7th place in the franchise scoring race, but since it was credited to Pominville, he’s stuck once again – for now.
(Side note: Either way, can people STOP comparing Vanek to Miroslav Satan? Just because they’re tied in the scoring race doesn’t mean they’re at all similar. Stop it. No, seriously.)
There’s not many positive attributes to discuss in such a game – but one of the key points that the Sabres need to work on is penalties. Buffalo took seven penalties last night, while the Devils took just two – and New Jersey scored on two of their power play opportunities.
Although the final score doesn’t reflect it, shots in the game were close: 31-30 in favor of the Devils. May it also be noted that Kovalchuk’s final goal – to seal his hat trick – was an empty-netter at 19:51.
While the majority of the Sabres team ended up neutral (0) in plus-minus, Derek Roy tallied a -2. He also had two penalties. Defenseman Robyn Regehr was the only Sabre to have a plus rating, at +1.
Defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani returned from being a healthy scratch for the past six games, but played just 5:12 in the loss. Gragnani is the only defenseman on the team who hasn’t missed a game yet this season due to injury.
Matt Ellis and Cody McCormick were the scratches; Ellis was healthy, while McCormick is still fighting an injury sustained last Friday.
If Sabres fans can be thankful for one thing, it’s that they won’t have to face Kovalchuk again this season (unless playoffs happen.)