Buffalo’s battle against the Capitals on Sunday night was a match against two of the three worst teams in the Eastern Conference- Sabres were sitting in 13th and the Capitals in 14th. By the time all the dust cleared the teams had switched spots in the standings as the Buffalo Sabres fell 5-3 to the Washington Capitals. Right from the beginning- 19 seconds in to be exact- it appeared that tonight just wasn’t going to be Buffalo’s night.
Just moments after the puck dropped the Sabres iced the puck for no real reason then proceeded to lose the face-off and Alex Ovechkin wired one home through Ryan Miller‘s five hole. Just 19 seconds into the game the Sabres found themselves trailing, not exactly the idea way to start a game in which you desperately need two points.
It was really a poor start to the game for the Sabres who looked flat and un-motivated early on, the period ended with both teams having fired five shots at each others goalies and the Capitals up 1-0. Interesting stat from the 1st- the Sabres lost 13 of 19 face-offs.
As quickly as Ovechkin scored in the first Cody Hodgsonmatched just 12 seconds into the 2nd to even up the score at 1. But with the Capitals striking three
times within 5 minutes in the second period the Sabres quickly found themselves trailing once again- this time down 4-1. Miller had five minutes that he’d like to forget but you can’t entirely fault him.
The defence was once again pitiful, unable to get the puck out of their own zone, standing around looking at the puck, letting the Capitals skate circles around them and losing races for loose pucks.
While we don’t have the benefit of being the head coach in that high pressure situation a few people were curious as to why Ron Rolston didn’t either call a time out after the second goal or put Jhonas Enroth in after the Sabres went down 4-1. At this point in the game you could tell that the Sabres were flat out not interested in playing hockey and competing, putting Enroth in may have provided a spark/ kick in the butt and wouldn’t have really changed the outcome had it gone bad.
Never-the-less the Sabres kept soldiering on with Miller between the pipes and skating like they couldn’t wait for the season to end. Once again the “kid line” of Marcus Foligno, Brian Flynn and Kevin Porter was one of the best lines for the Sabres and Flynn scored the 2nd goal late in the second to breath some life into the Sabres.
It’s likely because none of these three have a solidified spot on the big club but they never seem to give up, always skating like there’s no tomorrow and after watching the way some of the veterans have played as of late it’s refreshing to see. Second period came to an end with the Sabres down 4-2.
Once again Hodgson to the rescue scoring his 2nd goal of the night early in the third and pulling the Sabres to within just one of the Capitals. This was an important goal as it proved the Sabres hadn’t fully given up after going down 4-1 early in the second and were going to do their best to pull out at least a point.
Miller had a night to forget tonight allowing 5 goals on 25 shots, he was able to make some key saves to keep the Sabres in the game late and give them a chance but it was too little too late. Hodgson potted 2 goals but the Sabres were unable to take advantage of them as they lost their fifth straight game on the road.
This was another tough game for Sabres fans to watch as aside from Hodgson and “the kids” no one else showed up for the game against the Capitals. Rolston decided not to put Patrick Kaleta back into the line-up after serving his five game suspension, some believe Kaleta may have been able to spark and give the Sabres energy but ultimately it became a bigger story than it should have.
2 Key observations
- After the Capitals scored 3 goals in less than 5 minutes and Ryan Miller got next to no support, you could tell by body language that Miller is done with this team and wants out. He doesn’t enjoy playing in front of this team and wants this season to end. Heck after the 3rd goal I thought Miller was tempted to skate off the ice and act like this high school goaltender.
- In addition to Miller being fed up you could tell that this team really didn’t seem to care and are just “riding out” the rest of the season before their contracts are up or they can get a trade out of town. Despite the comeback that fell just short you could tell this team is done with this season. Something needs to be done by Sabres management as they have a team with no heart, pride or accountability.
Can the Buffalo Sabres throw in the flag and start getting ready for next season yet? It appears the players want to.