Tonight’s Buffalo Sabres game was filled with “firsts.” Unfortunately, one of the “firsts” that was not accomplished tonight against the Dallas Stars was a home win in 2013-2014 season, as the Sabres fell to the Stars by a score of 4-3.Although tonight didn’t bring a home win to the Buffalo Sabres, it marked several other “firsts,” including:
- Newcomer Matt Moulson‘s first game in the blue and gold & first goal as a member of the Sabres organization.
- First time since April 3, 2004 that a player other than Thomas Vanek has worn #26 for the Buffalo Sabres.
- The first time former Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff returned to his former city since being relieved.
- Tyler Seguin‘s first NHL game in Buffalo with a team other than the Boston Bruins.
- The first time the Dallas Stars have played in Buffalo with Jamie Benn as team captain.
- Buffalo Sabres captain Steve Ott‘s first time meeting his former team (and he scored!)
- Mikhail Grigorenko‘s first point of the season.
……….. yeah, that’s a lot of firsts for one game.
As for the game itself: things didn’t start off on a great foot. Letting the opposing team take an early lead less than five minutes into the first period is never going to be a good thing; it puts you in an early hole, forces you to step up quickly to erase the deficit so you don’t get further behind, and gives the opposing team a boost very early in the game.
Despite that, it was only 27 seconds before the Sabres tied it up. That’s great!! What’s better about this early tying goal? It came from none other than Matt Moulson, in his first game with the Buffalo Sabres after yesterday’s trade. Moulson’s goal was certainly a nice one, a slapshot assisted by Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson.
Unfortunately, two Dallas goals later in the period (in a matter of just 1:12) put the Stars ahead 3-1 before the end of the first period, leaving many Sabres fans thinking “…… Really?!?” Dallas’ goals including Tyler Seguin’s fifth goal of the season and his first against Buffalo since being traded from the Boston Bruins.
Halfway through the second period, the hope was still there that the Sabres could tie things up before it got too out of hand…. and then the Dallas Stars scored yet again, this time at the hands of captain Jamie Benn. Seguin assisted, and Erik Cole got his second assist of the night, putting the Stars ahead 4-1.
Just a few minutes later, now-full-time-captain Steve Ott scored his second goal of the season on a power play. Mikhail Grigorenko notched an assist on the play for his first point of the season and first since March 2013. Of course, it’s hard to score a lot of points when you’re put on the fourth line….
Anyways: the Sabres were making a comeback, and that continued later in the second period when Matt Moulson scored his second goal of the night – and now second goal as a member of the Buffalo Sabres organization – to make it a one-goal game. If tonight’s game is any indication of anything, Moulson might fit nicely here in Buffalo. He began the night on the top line, which is a pretty hefty honor for a newcomer – but a two-goal performance proved his worth, at least for the time being. The line of Moulson, Ennis and Hodgson seemed to have some great chemistry tonight, so let’s hope Ron Rolston keeps the line together in the future and maybe more great things will come.
So what could the Buffalo Sabres have done differently tonight?
More shots might have helped, because at times the Dallas Stars defense looked – to borrow a word from Twitter – “porous.” Getting shots on goal seems to be an issue for the Sabres this season, but it’s an issue they’ll have to work harder at in the future. Keep shooting, making plays and getting pucks on net – it can only lead to good things. The Sabres had 25 shots in tonight’s game, which is a respectable number, but more shots might have made the difference.
I’ll leave you with a few final thoughts on the evening. First of all, I came into tonight’s game thinking it really wasn’t a big deal that Moulson would be wearing #26. And I stand by my point – it’s not a big deal. It’s the number he wore with the New York Islanders and it only makes sense that he would keep that number here if it was available. I will say, however, that it was a bit strange to see someone other than Thomas Vanek wearing that number – and come to find it’s the first time since 2004 that’s happened.
Other than that… the Sabres generally looked good tonight, and it was refreshing in parts. There were good things to take away from tonight’s game, even though it ended in a loss. Keep the line of Moulson, Ennis and Hodgson together and boost it. Take more shots, keep pushing, and get ready to face the NY Rangers on Thursday…. and please, please, please, get a win at home.