Standing at 6-1-2 in their past 9 home games, it seems that Buffalo has found a natural feeling of playing in front of the home crowd, the same crowd that not more than 2 months ago, was planning on protesting the team, refraining from filing into the seats.
Jan 18, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers (57) celebrates a goal with teammates during his 300th career NHL game against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the first period at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Playing host to a Columbus Blue Jackets team, one win from tying the franchise record win streak, Buffalo was put to the test, however, a stalled out shootout lineup was the Achilles Heel for the second straight game, falling 4-3 in a shootout.
But it wasn’t an easy victory for the visiting team.
Taking advantage of the Blue Jackets playing the night before, Buffalo jumped on Columbus early, trying to break them.
In his second game back from his suspension, Tyler Myers, playing in his 300th career NHL game, received a beautiful pinpoint pass through traffic from Matt Moulson and scored 59 seconds into the game to get Buffalo off on the right start.
Assists were given to Moulson and Tyler Ennis on Myers’ goal.
Those assists would be the first of two for both players in the first period.
After David Savard scored a shot from the left of Miller at the 6:19 mark of the first, Drew Stafford retook control of the lead only 28 seconds later to put Buffalo up 2-1 against Columbus.
The assists on Stafford’s goal were a flip of before, with Ennis and Moulson now getting the first and second assists, respectively.
Ryan Miller, whose first ever win came against the Blue Jackets, continued to show his value, robbing what would have been the tying goal about halfway through the first, robbing an open goal shot on RJ Umberger, who will now have another Buffalo nightmare to add to his list.
Jan 18, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky (17) looks to get the puck from Buffalo Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (10) during the third period at First Niagara Center. Columbus beats Buffalo 4 to 3 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Myers took a boarding call in the middle of the first, sending Columbus to the powerplay.
Columbus’ Matt Calvert, standing in between Mike Weber and Miller, backhanded a rebound off of a shot from Nikita Nikitin past Miller to tie the game with 7:16 left in the opening period. The goal came right at the tail end of the Myers penalty as Myers stepped out of the box
Matt Moulson seemed to have broken the tie 24 seconds into the second, unfortunately the referees ruled it a kicking motion to put the puck
A Zenon Konopka-goaltender interference call would be a difference maker tonight, as a Columbus power play managed to squeak a goal past miller.
After a scramble in front of the Buffalo net, Brandon Dubinsky picked up a rebound off of Miller and lifted the puck past Miller, Mark Pysyk, and Christian Ehrhoff to take the lead in this game.
Buffalo managed to get two late chances on the power play, but were unlucky in scoring on Bobrovsky and the Columbus penalty kill.
At the end of 2, Buffalo trailed the Blue Jackets 3-2 with the Jackets leading the shot count, 28-19.
Into the third, Buffalo picked up the pace, going full bore after Bobrovski.
Part way into the third, Mark Pysyk came up huge to prevent Columbus from running away with this game.
With Ryan Johansen carrying the puck behind the net, a slight deke had him coming around the net to the right of Miller. Unable to pick up the move behind the net, Miller was slow to moving across the crease, but “No Worries” said Pysyk as he came down and stripped the puck off of Johansen’s stick and moved it back up ice.
With almost all of the period gone, and the chance to score dwindling with each ticking second, something had to give.
Ted Nolan pulled Miller late to give Buffalo the 6-5, hoping to notch the late equalizer.
Lady Luck had blessed Buffalo one last time. With a Stafford drive around the net, David Savard got his stick into Stafford’s skate, and just like that, Buffalo had a powerplay with 36 seconds left.
Enter Tyler Myers.
Jan 18, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) makes a save during the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at First Niagara Center. Columbus beats Buffalo 4 to 3 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
After a Steve Ott faceoff win, the puck was cycled to the left of the zone, Cody Hodgson ripped a pass to the other side of the zone, Tyler Myers picked the pass, took a small stride towards the net, fired off a lower inside shot, and that capped off a momentous 300th game for him, scoring with 24 seconds remaining in the game.
Again, Buffalo would have to look onward into the overtime, and more commonly, the shootout, for the decision in this game.
Once again, Buffalo’s shooters all stalled out in the 1v1, unable to solve Bobrovsky.
In the third frame, Ryan Johansen carried the puck straight down and threw about 3 or 4 dekes and then flipped the puck over an unsuspecting Miller, and just like that the game was over.
At the end of the shootout, it was Columbus who was the one celebrating, despite fantastic games played by much of the Sabres roster.
BUFFALO // COLUMBUS
Moulson X // Atkinson X
Ennis X // Letestu X
Hodgson X // Johansen √
With Buffalo now riding a three game losing streak, they now turn their attention to the incoming Florida Panthers on Tuesday, hoping to avenge their shootout loss, both tonight and to the Panthers only two weeks ago.
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