The Buffalo Sabres faced off against the Montreal Canadiens for the second time tonight and again allowed three
goals, but they were able to get a second on past Carey Price this time.
Just before the start of the game I was able to chat with the guys at Montreal Hockey Talk and one of the questions they brought up was the future of the Buffalo Sabres and a player like Zemgus Girgensons. All I could offer them was – the team got the best value of this first round draft pick because they were able to give him a year of seasoning in the American Hockey League, and if they continue to develop him properly he will be the power forward that the Sabres have been missing. Girgensons did tonight the one thing he need to do to help me not sound like a total whack – he scored a goal by staying strong on a puck and not giving up on the play.
The first period started strong for the Sabres – they played hard and didn’t give the Montreal Canadiens the time and space to create a lot of chances against backup netminder Jhonas Enroth. Through 20 minutes of play Buffalo and Montreal skated through pretty uneventful, yet entertaining hockey, with neither goalie being tested all that often.
The second period is where things began to unravel for the Buffalo Sabres - and where the Montreal Canadiens showed everyone why they were the best team in the Atlantic division, and the Sabres are a team still struggling to find their identity as they mire along the bottom of the league. Just 19 seconds into the second period, Jhonas Enroth subdued to the pressure allowing the Canadiens to snap ahead by one. Buffalo instantly reeled into defensive mode, and struggled to find any rhythm to combat the attacking Habs.
Thankfully for the Sabres – they were able to keep it together and ride the storm, getting back into the game with a wicked slapshot from the offensively on fire Tyler Ennis.
The air was sucked from the Sabres late in the third period as Montreal got two quick goals to regain their lead and give them the two goal buffer with goals from Plekanek and Galchenyuk just 23 seconds apart.
Buffalo needed to do some serious soul searching in the locker room before the final stanza of play. Montreal could have easily turned it on over the Sabres crushing the hopes of the blue and gold. Buffalo was able to hold on, and on the heels of an impressive power forward style goal by Zemgus Girgensons, showed the NHL that the Buffalo Sabres do have some fight - and that the future will be bright in Buffalo.
What doesn’t happen tonight is another win, and the offensive woes continue, despite a valiant effort tonight by the front men. The shots were there, and the Corsi rating was closer than most Sabres losses. The Sabres outshot Montreal 25-19, the difference tonight was Carey Price, who increases his incredible run – and Jhonas Enroth a quality netminder behind Ryan Miller and standing behind a team desperate for positive cues to feed off of.
Not being inside the Buffalo Sabres locker room, or in the minds of the hockey department who are evaluating this team have to know that maybe, just maybe this team isn’t as far away as once thought. Energy and emotion are high despite the lack of offensive, the team looks resurgent. What is also high though, given their position in the standings and the start of the regular season under Darcy Regier and Ron Rolston, is the teams fragility level. Buffalo lacks the ability to win in situations where it is often said, that good teams find a way to win.