Knee-Jerk Reaction: Buffalo Sabres vs. Calgary Flames


Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in nearly three years, the Buffalo Sabres lost at the hands of the Calgary Flames organization, dropping a 2-1 afternoon decision at the First Niagara Center on December 14.

Today’s game marked the first win for the Calgary franchise in the current building that is the First Niagara Center. The last time the Flames won a game in Buffalo was March 15, 1996, at the Memorial Auditorium. That was a 3-1 win for the Flames. A little blast from the past: Matthew Barnaby scored the lone goal for the Buffalo Sabres, while Calgary Flames goals came from Theoren Fleury, Gary Roberts and German Titov. Rick Tabaracci and Dominik Hasek were the netminders at the time.

Anyways – back to the present. The kicker of today’s loss has to be that former Buffalo Sabres players accounted for three of the five points scored by Flames players during the game. Paul Byron scored the game-tying goal, assisted by Mikael Backlund and former Sabres defenseman Chris Butler. Byron also assisted on the OT game-winner scored by Matt Stajan.

Ugh. Seriously?

Byron, now 24, was a member of the Sabres organization from 2007 until 2011. He played 8 games with the Buffalo Sabres in 2010-11, scoring one goal and one assist. He also played with the AHL’s Portland Pirates from 2009-11, scoring 40 goals and 46 assists in 124 games.

Butler was drafted by the Sabres in 2005 and played with the Portland Pirates from 2008-09 before spending parts of three seasons with the Sabres. Overall, he scored five goals and 31 assists in 155 NHL games with Buffalo.

I don’t know about you, but I’m just sick and tired of former Sabres players coming back to haunt us. It’s great to see that they’ve done well with their new teams, but… come on, guys! You can’t let that happen time and time again.

Matt Moulson scored the lone goal for the Buffalo Sabres in today’s matinee matchup, assisted by Zemgus Girgensons and Christian Ehrhoff. Moulson’s goal opened the scoring in the third period, after 75 percent of the game passed with no goals from either team.

One key moving forward for the Sabres has to be to stay out of the penalty box. The Sabres took three penalties in the first period (Calgary took four, so it’s not as if they did much better, but still.) That first period included two interference penalties (McNabb, Scott) and a tripping penalty.

Thankfully, the Flames took enough penalties of their own, and also weren’t able to capitalize on any opportunities they had – but a team that’s already struggling simply can’t afford to take that many penalties. Marcus Foligno would take two more penalties in the second period, one for holding and one for cross-checking.

The Sabres ended up outshooting the Flames 27-26, including 11 shots in the first period. In fact, Calgary had just one shot in the overtime period – but that shot resulted in the game-winning goal.

Jhonas Enroth stopped 24 shots in the loss for Buffalo.

Cody Hodgson missed today’s game, as he’s still out with a lower-body injury but did skate in warm-ups prior to the game. Matt Ellis, called up from the Rochester Americans after last night’s Frozen Frontier matchup, took Hodgson’s place in the lineup today. Luke Adam and Mark Pysyk were the other scratches for Buffalo.

The Sabres dropped to 1-3-2 in the last six games and are looking at a meeting with the Winnipeg Jets and a home-and-home with the Boston Bruins in the next seven days. Something’s gotta give, and soon, with just seven games remaining in the calendar year – including four against conference foes. The Sabres currently sit last in the Eastern Conference with a 7-23-3 record, 17 points in 33 games played and minus-41 goal differential.