Following an emotional game in Boston this past Wednesday, the Buffalo Sabres were faced with a do or die matchup tonight against the New York Rangers at home. So in order to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, they needed a win over New York to stay in contention for the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. But instead of playing like a team fighting for the playoffs, they looked like a team fighting to keep their early tee times. The relentless attack from the Rangers and countless mistakes by the Sabres left them on the short end of an 8-4 beating that left the home crowd stunned.
For the majority of the first, the Sabres looked solid, with a tight presence on defense, but it was merely the calm before the storm.
The floodgates opened up late in period as the Rangers scored three goals in the course of 74 seconds. The first two were fluke goals that deflected off of Sabres defensemen which left Ryan Miller shaking his head.
Miller was clearly rattled as he botched a pass to his defenseman giving the Rangers a gift in front of the Sabres’ net making it 3-0 in favor of New York.
Ryan Miller was still on the ice for Buffalo at the start of the period but it would be short lived.
The Sabres could not stop the bleeding in the second period, and the Rangers came out strong and delivered the finishing blow on Miller, sending him to the bench.
The quick goal in the second was enough for the Sabres to pull Miller and take their chances with Jhonas Enroth, but the move to the backup proved to be futile. The Rangers got a goal shortly after the switch on a loose puck in the crease that got pushed off a Sabres defenseman’s stick, but it was a puck that should have been covered up by Enroth.
The Rangers would continue to pour it on, adding another from Rick Nash, racking it up to 6-0 as Buffalo continued to struggle.
Both teams would add one more aside before the second period was through.
The third period was a mere formality in this one. There was no magical comeback in store for Buffalo. To add insult to injury, Brad Richards of the Rangers scored a hat trick goal on a shot Enroth barely waved at.
The lone bright spot in this game for Buffalo was Mark Pysyk‘s first goal of his NHL career coming late in the third period.
The Buffalo Sabres watched their playoff hopes dwindle away with a final score of 8-4.
I was honestly embarrassed to be a Sabres fan tonight. I was expecting to see a playoff atmosphere type game in a must win match-up for Buffalo, but all I wanted to do was cover my eyes and wonder why I ever got my hopes up in the first place.
For the majority of this season, I knew that the playoffs were not in this team’s future. At no point has this team looked like they were capable of contending in the offseason. Several times this year they’ve shown life, strung together a few wins, and tonight was a cultivation of everything, amassed into one giant let down at home in a do or die situation. A late first period melt down turned this game into a train-wreck that didn’t stop until the Sabres started showing some life in the second, but even then it was already to late.
The team showed some heart in this one, but I couldn’t help but feel like they had all but given up on this season. I don’t hold Miller responsible in this one as much as I would anyone else on the team, even though he let in four. The first two goals scored by New York clearly rattled him and the next two were very un-Miller like plays. If anything Enroth should have come in playing better, but Buffalo was fighting a losing battle at that point. Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed with tonight’s result, but I can’t say I’m surprised after the way this team had performed all season.
Due to the series of events taking place in Boston these past few days, the Bruins-Penguins game has been rescheduled from tonight to tomorrow which means the Sabres game against the Penguins won’t take place until next Tuesday.