Nov 24, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers (57) looks to make a pass during the second period against the Detroit Red Wings at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
The Calgary Flames (12-15-4) skated into First Niagara Center for a 2pm affair against host Buffalo Sabres (7-23-2), in what looked like it could be a yawner of a game. The Sabres currently hold the worst record in the 30-team NHL, with Calgary not much better, sitting at 26th.
As the first period got underway, the play of the team resembled their records. Both teams were sloppy and disjointed, as evidenced by 4 minor penalties in the initial 8 minutes. Buffalo and Calgary ended up combining for 7 penalties in the period. This included the Flames fielding 7 skaters on the ice while shorthanded, drawing a too-many-men penalty.
Tyler Myers was one of the more noticeable Sabres players on the ice, providing a pair of punishing checks on Mikael Backlund. Rookie Zemgus Girgensons also laid out a huge hit of his own, but the teams ended up tied with 9 hits apiece.
Drew Stafford and Brian Flynn each hit the Flames post, Tyler Ennis missed a golden opportunity on the power play, and Ville Leino was robbed of a goal. During a scramble in front of goalie Kari Ramo, the puck jostled loose in front of a wide-open net. Just as Leino poked the puck into the goal, a Calgary defender knocked the net off its moorings, resulting in no goal. The period ended 0-0.
As the second period got underway, the Sabres were clearly playing with more energy and effort. Marcus Foligno missed a great rebound opportunity, which was followed up by a nasty hit on Buffalo-native Lee Stempniak by Brayden McNabb. Buffalo then embarked on a lousy powerplay, highlighted by Christian Ehrhoff finding himself alone in front of the net. Instead of taking a shot, he sent an errant pass into the corner.
Halfway into the period, the Sabres problems with the goalposts continued. Girgensons made a nice drive to the net, and had Ramo beat, but fired the puck into the corner of the goaltenders best friend. Girgensons made a great play, knocking the puck out of the air on a saucerpass from Matt Moulson. Myers found the same post again, just a few minutes later.
In the period, the Flames began to look very tired, and started doing more watching of the play, than participating in it. The penalty parade continued, as the teams combined for 11 penalties in the game by the end of the second stanza. The game was still knotted in a 0-0 tie, despite the Sabres domination. With the 4 goalposts and the Leino non-goal, it could have easily been 5-0.
In the third period, the Sabres continued to control and dictate the play. Six minutes into the frame, the efforts of the Buffalo players were finally rewarded. Girgensons took a pass from Moulson, and raced up the right wing, and dished a beautiful backhand pass back to Moulson alone in front of the net, who promptly deposited his 11th goal of the season.
Just two minutes later, a pair of former Sabres combined to tie the game for the Flames. Chris Butler pinched in from the point, gained control of the puck, and swung around behind the net. He then fed Paul Byron, who was alone on the side of the net, and fired the puck past Jhonas Enroth, making it a 1-1 affair.
The goal seemed to rejuvenate Calgary, and knock the Sabres down a peg, as the play was more balanced from the team for the remainder of the period. Buffalo had a few more excellent opportunities, but could not cash in. Girgensons continued his tenacious play, as he almost ended the game with just a few seconds left. Regulation ended in a tie, and it was on to overtime.
Despite the numerous chances throughout the game by Buffalo, a win was not in the cards for the Sabres. Just 40 seconds into the extra period, Byron again made his former employer pay. Showing a great individual effort, he chased down his own shot in the Sabres end, and the held onto the puck until he found Matt Stajan streaking in the slot. Stajan then fired a weak shot past Enroth, ending the game.
Coming off a loss in which they could not finish plays, firing 44 shots on the Ottawa Senators, it was much the same for Buffalo today. Another 27 shots, and just one goal to show for it. If the Sabres are going to struggle to win a close game against a team as low as Calgary, it will be the likely story for most games throughout the remainder of this season.
Buffalo takes on the Winnipeg Jets at home on Tuesday.