The Buffalo Sabres were in need of a good showing tonight after back-to-back embarrassing performances on the ice this weekend including a big loss in Montreal on Saturday, and a blown lead against the Florida Panthers on Sunday. With the feeling of a potential comeback in the air tonight at Scotiabank Place as the Sabres fell behind early, it wasn’t meant to be as Buffalo lost 4-3 to the Ottawa Senators. There’s some serious cause for concern in Buffalo going forward as they have now lost 7 of their last 8 games.
Ottawa opened up the scoring midway through the first period on the powerplay with a screen shot taken by Erik Karlsson that was deflected in front of Jhonas Enroth. Ryan Miller got a break tonight with Enroth between the pipes for Buffalo. Enroth continues to struggle in net as his losing streak climbs to 12 games after tonight.
Ottawa bounced back and took a 2-1 lead on a quick wrister by Senators defenseman Chris Philips. The shot came right off a face-off in the Sabres end and it was a puck that Enroth should have had.
The Sens padded their lead later in the period on a deadly wrist shot in the slot by their captain Daniel Alfredson. The young Mika Zibanejad got an assist on the play for Ottawa.
The Sabres found themselves behind early in Ottawa letting up three big goals in the first period and their poor play from the weekend seemed like it was carrying over into tonight’s game.
Buffalo came out strong early putting on good pressure during their second man-up advantage, but could not capitalize. The Sabres struggled on the powerplay tonight going 0/4.
Things were looking worse for Buffalo as Ottawa added to their lead with a goal from Chris Neil, going up 4-1.
Coming into this game Senators goaltender Craig Anderson had not let up a goal past the first period in any game so far this season. As bad as it was looking for the Sabres, the team showed some life with a nice heads up play by Jordan Leopold (haven’t heard that much this year). Leopold’s tip-in goal put the Sabres within 2 with about half the game left to be played.
The Sabres got a controversial goal from Jason Pominville late in the third period bringing them back within one. The goal was originally waved off by the on ice referees but further review showed it was indeed a legal play by Pominville with the puck going off his skate.
Buffalo played well during the period, shutting out the Senators for 20 minutes of hockey but the late game heroics were not in the works tonight for the Sabres as they fell to the Senators with a final of 4-3.
My thoughts on tonight’s game…
-First of all, is Thomas Vanek sick? He didn’t have any points tonight. Or maybe he’s just tired from carrying the team on his back all season.
-Even with a loss to show for, I was somewhat pleased with the team’s play tonight. The energy seemed better on the ice for Buffalo and there weren’t as many blatant scoring chances for the opposition as there had been in recent games. The defense seemed a bit tighter for Buffalo even with a few regulars scratched from the lineup. Even Tyler Myers played a little better than he has been with a few hits to show for.
-Early on I had my eyes on Adam Pardy who was recalled from Rochester and playing in his first NHL game of the season for the Sabres. With Christian Ehrhoff out, Pardy was thrown into the lineup tonight and he made his presence felt early with a big hit on Ottawa’s Zack Smith in the first frame. He played well tonight moving the puck around and playing aggressive everywhere on the ice.
-One area that is really starting to frustrate me is the team’s performance in the faceoff circle. I’m convinced they don’t work on faceoffs at all during practice because they really suck. Game after game it’s tiring watching them lose the majority of draws against teams with below-average faceoff stats. A big example of this tonight was the second goal scored by Ottawa that came right off the faceoff in the Sabres zone. If they win that draw, Ottawa doesn’t score and the game ends up 3-3 instead of 4-3.
-As bad as it was looking for Enroth in the first period, I’ll give him props for not allowing a goal through the 2nd half of the game. But even with that being said, allowing 4 goals on 24 shots is unacceptable and the goaltending for Buffalo needs to tighten up.
-It was great to see scoring come from other lines on Buffalo but the offensive production was short lived and the first line wasn’t able to bail out the team tonight. We need to see more of a point spread throughout the roster going forward.
-Buffalo showed some heart tonight battling back after being down 1-4, especially against a tough goaltender like Anderson, but regardless it’s still another tally in the loss column for Buffalo. The Sabres find themselves on a three game losing skid and things need to turn around soon or it is just going to get uglier for Buffalo.
The Sabres take on the Montreal Canadians at home this Thursday.