With new line combinations set by coach Ted Nolan, the Buffalo Sabres took on the Ottawa Senators tonight. Sixty minutes was not enough for either team to clinch the victory in Buffalo and fans were able to see an overtime period as well as a shootout. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the game, I wont spoil the ending, so lets reverse back to the beginning of the game.
The Sabres set a good tempo during the opening minutes of the game and they had some decent attempts on net but no solid scoring chances came about other than a few loose pucks in front of the crease. One positive note from the get go though….BUFFALO PLAYERS WERE SHOOTING THE PUCK!
Not surprising though, the Sabres have one let-down and the Senators bury the chance and go up 1-0 just 6 1/2 minutes into the game. Myers was pinching forward, Ennis didn’t keep up with his man during the back check, and Ottawa put together a nice 2 on 1 that ended with a one-timer into the back of the net. Cory Conacher setup Milan Michalek who scored his 5th goal of the season.
Once the Senators scored, the ice began to tilt more for Ottawa. Buffalo did kill off two penalties in a row though, but no momentum was gained with just about 5 1/2 left in the period. Ottawa had a few odd man rushes due to Sabres defenseman getting caught up in the offensive zone – both McNabb and Myers used poor judgment during offensive surges. The last few minutes of the period were back and forth, and play did not open up enough for either team to put a puck in the net.
Even though the score was 1-0 after the end of the first period, the Sabres played some pretty good hockey – other than the defenseman pinching and creating odd man rushes for Ottawa. The beginning of the second period look similar to the start of the first period – Sabres pushing hard and creating some chances. The good play was halted as the Sabres committed their third penalty of the game 6 minutes into the period – they remained perfect on the penalty kill though. The refs were making questionable calls against the Sabres, as 2 out of 3 calls against Buffalo were unclear.
The Sabres finally received a power play later in the period as Erik Karlsson took a hooking penalty – nothing came of the 2 minute man advantage though. A few minutes later though, Zemgus Girgensons steps up yet again and scores his 3rd goal of the season – in what looked like a broken play, the young rookie slaps at the puck and squeaks one past Ottawa. Christian Ehrhoff gets the primary assist as he brought the puck into the offensive zone and simply put the puck on net.
Just minutes later another scrum in front of the net ensued, and every Sabres player on the ice signaled that they had scored. The refs quickly skated to the side and conjured together only to make the wrong call! Review after review was shown on MSG which clearly showed the puck being pushed into the net by Ottawa goaltender Robin Lehner. Somehow the refs and officials in Toronto came to the conclusion that there was no goal – how is beyond me! No explanation was given either – just a simple…NO GOAL. There was a delayed penalty on the play, which is most likely the reasoning for the play being called as no goal – the refs considered the play to be dead since the Senators touched the puck.
After the unfortunate no goal call, the Sabres had their second power play of the night, but again they came up empty. If the Sabres are going to start winning games, they need to start putting some goals in on the man advantage.
The 3rd period started with the Sabres continuing their 3rd power play of the night – and once again Buffalo comes up empty. Minutes later Ehrhoff made a great defensive play and ended up on a break away but couldn’t get the puck past Lehner – a great individual effort was made though.
Play continued to go back and forth with each team having chances – much like the first two periods of play. During the back and forth, Ryan Miller really stepped up and kept the Sabres in the game, making several key saves – again, if it wasn’t for Miller the Sabres would not be competitive at all. No goals were scored in the third period – which meant that the game was sent into overtime and each team walks away with at least one point.
One particular sequence is worthy of mention within the overtime period – Ennis, Moulson, and McBain all had chances with just over a minute to go, several shot attempts were put on Lehner. Again, no goals were scored – starting in the third period, the feeling had to be there on each bench that this game was going to go the full distance and be decided by a shootout.
Moulson was the first shooter for the Sabres and he started Buffalo off on the right foot, putting the puck past Lehner. Ottawa missed their first shot, as was the case for Buffalo. Zabanejad scored for Ottawa on their second shot to tie it up. Hodgson, Stafford, and Adam all came up empty handed for Buffalo, while Spezza, Ryan, and Conacher also couldn’t score.
The Buffalo Sabres finally won the game with a goal on the 10th attempt! Zemgus Girgensons scored the game deciding goal for Buffalo and they earned the 2 points! Girgensons shootout winner was his first ever shootout attempt in the NHL – is there anything this kid can’t do? He was easily the story of the game, scoring the only goal in regulation for Buffalo and then winning it in the lengthy shootout!
Overall the Sabres played a good game, in my opinion. There were some defensive breakdowns, but certainly not as many as previous games – the defense was caught pinching too many times tonight, and Buffalo is lucky that Ottawa didn’t convert on more of their odd man rushes. Ryan Miller did play well and kept the Sabres in the game during the third period – he ended the game with 35 saves.
Hats off to Girgensons though, he is playing his heart out and proving that he belongs in the NHL. The Sabres next match-up is against the Senators on Thursday, as they are playing a home-in-home series.