Coming into Sunday’s game against the New York Rangers the Buffalo Sabres had a chance to win their 4th straight game, yes the Buffalo Sabres who were tied for 2nd last in the entire NHL a week ago had an opportunity to win their 4th straight game and jump into 9th place in the East. Unfortunately undisciplined play and an in-ability to score on the power play left the Sabres skating out of New York with 1 point as they fell 3-2 to the Rangers in the shootout.
For anyone who watched the exciting game between Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks earlier in the day and then tuned into the Sabres and Rangers later at night, they would have been seriously disappointed. The first period may have been one of the most boring periods of hockey I’ve seen all year, the Sabres were slow, coughing up the puck and giving up scoring chances left, right and center- heck it seemed like the Sabres had forgotten the game had started. Thankfully Ryan Miller stood tall and the Rangers were unable to capitalize and the 1st period ended noted at 0.
Both teams came out ready to play in the 2nd and the Buffalo Sabres played arguably their best 2nd period all season- aside from their pitiful power play. Drew Stafford opened the scoring on a wrist shot from the slot after Mikhail Grigorenko won the face-off and passed the puck to Stafford. That was Stafford’s 2nd goal of the year and hopefully will give him more confidence as his chemistry with Grigorenko grows. The Sabres escaped the 2nd period with a 1-0 lead and were just 20 minutes away from shutting out the New York Rangers and earning Ryan Miller- who has been phenomenal on this 4 game stretch a much deserved shutout.
Richards from behind head first into the boards. Kaleta was assessed a 5 minute major and a game misconduct on the play. On the 5 minute power play the Rangers got goals from Derek Stepan and Rick Nash which turned the 1-0 lead into a 2-1 deficit. Down by 1 late in the 3rd it seemed like the Sabres were about to let a win slip through their hands, but the under dog of the team Steve Ott came to the rescue leading a nice 2 on 2 and turning it into a 2 on 1 and then sending a beautiful pass to Nathan Gerbe who wristed it past Henrik Lundqvist to tie the game up at 2.
The game headed to overtime where the Sabres enjoyed a 33 second 5 on 3 after Dan Girardi crunched Tyler Ennis into the boards and got called for boarding. Sabres were unable to capitalize and the game went to a shootout. Rich Nash and Ryan Callahan both scored for the Rangers while Jason Pominville and Ennis failed to score for the Sabres.
- Despite coming back to tie the game at 2, Patrick Kaleta cost the Sabres the game as they had things under control until they had to kill off the 5 minute major. I would suspect that Kaleta will be given a sturdy suspension from Brendan Shanahan as he did hit Richards from behind into the boards and has a history. The fact that Kaleta would put himself in that situation is just mind boggling, he needs to learn to play on the edge without crossing the edge. Saying that the play by Richards was a bit exaggerated is an understatement: Β he cried on the ice like he broke his collar-bone, stayed down to insure that Kaleta was kicked out, left the game for a few moments and came back 2 shifts later.
- Ironically when Dan Girardi cross-checked Tyler Ennis into the boards he only got a 2 minute minor penalty for boarding, as Ennis jumped back into the play. Sometimes that’s the way things go when you have a player like Kaleta on your team, you usually don’t get the benefit of the doubt.
- The Sabres went 0/5 on the power play, something they need to change in a hurry if they are to turn around this season.
- While you can’t really fault Ryan Miller for the 2 goals the Rangers scored as both were power play goals, he wasn’t as sharp as normal tonight and appeared fatigued late in the game. In the shootout he looked horrible and could use a night off in the next week. Ron Rolston said before the game that he has a plan to get Jhonas Enroth back in the net, and after how tired Miller looked tonight I wouldn’t be surprised to see Enroth get a couple.
- Steve Ott has turned around the play of Nathan Gerbe who now has 3 goals in the last 2 games.
- The Sabres gained 7 of a possible 8 points over the last 4 games, which has catapulted them back close to the playoffs. Unfortunately they’re ruining their chances of landing a top draft-pick.