When the hockey game starts just about the time you are used to them ending – it doesn’t make it easy staying up to watch all 60 minutes of
action. The Buffalo Sabres did a lot to ease the pain of staying up late to watch the troubled young franchise play the red hot San Jose Sharks in their own building.
No one wants to hear about a feel good win – or the fact that the team really needed this one. The facts are simple, this team is a lot worse off than most expected at the start of the year. It just appears that there is no compete on most nights. And then they go ahead and do this to you, in typical Buffalo fashion – you drag me back in. You almost hate to single out guys and say this is why the Buffalo Sabres were successful tonight – because well the entire bench showed up for this one, and the three stars are going to reflect that.
While it wasn’t an easy effort – the Buffalo Sabres jumped out to a two goal lead in the third period, before losing their minds and letting the Sharks get back in it with two quick goals. On the heels of the Buffalo Sabres 5-4 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks – here are the three standout members of the blue and gold.
Third Star: How about a three way tie – or just call the third star the Buffalo Sabres offense? Drew Stafford, Cody Hodgson, and Zemgus Girgensons all have multi-point nights. Stafford gets a goal and an assist, and Hodgson and Girgensons each add two helpers. While the game still showed signs that the Buffalo Sabres have a long road of rebuilding ahead of them – the Buffalo Sabres offense woke up tonight and answered the bell. When the team played aggressive and hungry – they were better off against the Sharks and seemed to frustrate the second best team in the National Hockey League. While the team gave up 51 shots against the San Jose Sharks – Buffalo was able to muster 36 shots of their own.
Second Star: Ryan Miller. The Buffalo Sabres net minders are the only reason that most of the games have been anywhere near close. Sure we have had a few games where the wheels just fell off the wagons and we dragged it on the axle for a few periods – but again, Ryan Miller faces a higher than average number of shots (51), and was good enough to make the game one of the best outings the team has seen all year. Personally though – if it weren’t an Olympic year where Miller’s spot on Team USA isn’t a sure thing – there are times when I think the Buffalo Sabres number one goalie has checked him self out emotionally knowing he won’t be here for the long run. Regardless of that opinion, Ryan Miller stared down 45 pucks in regulation – and his team scored enough to take the game to overtime.
First Star: Special Teams. Sure the game tying goal came just seconds after the penalty to Marcus Foligno – but on the stat sheet, the penalty kill for the Buffalo Sabres was perfect tonight, keeping the San Jose Sharks off the board through four minor penalties. Impressive given the fact that the Sharks have the eighth best power play in the league. On the other side of the bench – the Buffalo Sabres powerplay (which still needs a lot of work) was able to cash in a goal tonight thanks to the efforts of Matt Moulson, Cody Hodgson, and the power play goal scorer Tyler Ennis. Buffalo has the 24th best power play in the league.
The team stepped up tonight – there was toughness, offense, some defense – and an overall great way to win the first game of the California road trip – and a great way to rebound after the thumping we received from the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.