Welcome back, Sabres fans!
After a delay in NHL hockey for the Winter Olympics, the Sabres returned to action tonight for a home game against the Carolina Hurricanes. I was skeptical that Buffalo would win the game, since both goaltenders Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth had to cross 9 time zones in short notice, and one had to start in the net for the Sabres.
The initial 2 periods were fairly slow-going, as both teams were tied at 1-1 entering the 3rd period. From there, the game picked up some steam.
Although Buffalo was TERRIBLY outshot in the game, 38-18, I loved their effort 8 minutes into the 3rd period. The team crashed the net in front of Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward, and poked and prodded at the puck until finally Tyler Ennis cashed it home to take the lead. Drew Stafford picked up where he left off prior to the break, earning an assist, his second of the game. It was also nice to see Matt Moulson return from his injury, and grab the other helper.
Unfortunately, Alex Sulzer returned to his poor play, not knowing how to defend Alex Semin as he tied the game only 4 minutes later. At this point, I figured the Sabres would try and play themselves into an overtime, as has been the story ever since Ted Nolan took over coaching duties. If you were rooting for a Buffalo win, lucky for you, I was wrong.
With only 43 seconds left in the game, Christian Ehrhoff pocketed the game-winning goal, his 2nd of the game. For anyone hoping that Ehrhoff will become a trade-deadline move, his night just boosted your chances.
Lastly, we have our “big-name” trading chip – Ryan Miller. Millsie has been one of the best netminders of the year, albeit on the last place team in the NHL. I thought he should have been the goalie for Team USA in Sochi, but Dan Bylsma and the powers that be felt differently, and the result was no medal with Jonathan Quick.
Miller picked up exactly where he left off, picking up the pieces of a broken Sabres team, and stealing them a win on the strength of 36 saves. As much as I love Miller, I am on the side that feels the time is up for him with the team. It is time to head in a new direction, and time to let him try and win a Cup with a contender.
See you all tomorrow night as the Sabres take on the Bruins!