Buffalo Sabres Difference Makers Vs. Capitals


The Buffalo Sabres fell to the Washington Capitals on Monday night in a closely-fought battle, eventually dropping the 4-3 decision in a shootout.

All things considered, tonight’s game could have been a blowout, considering the Capitals had 40 points more than the Sabres headed into the night. But it wasn’t a blowout, just a one-goal game, and although the Capitals outshot the Sabres, it was by a close margin – 38 to 33.

So who were the difference makers in tonight’s Buffalo Sabres game? Who helped keep it a close game instead of a blowout, and which players were the key elements in earning a point for Buffalo?

3. Rasmus Ristolainen

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First up, I’m going to give some credit to defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen after tonight’s loss.

The 20-year-old just played in his 100th NHL game, and despite it being a loss, he had a solid night.

Ristolainen stepped up and played a team-high 28:11 tonight, filling in the vacancies left by Zach Bogosian, who has consistently played big minutes, and Andrej Meszaros.

Ristolainen had one assist, two shots and two hits. He also had six blocked shots, tied for most of the team.

2. Cody Hodgson

Another star night has to go to the dark horse, center Cody Hodgson. Hodgson registered his fifth goal of the season tonight, scoring Buffalo’s second goal of the night.

He was one of a handful of Sabres players to come out of tonight’s game with a positive plus-minus, ending the night with a plus-1

In 14:48 ice time, Hodgson had seven shots, accounting for 21 percent of the team’s shots on goal. He also had one attempt blocked.

1. Mike Weber

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Mike Weber made an immediate impact tonight with a hit on Capitals’ center Nicklas Backstrom early in the game. Just 3:28 into the game, Weber found himself dropping the gloves with Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin as a result of the hit. Weber stood his ground, and Ovechkin ended up getting served with the extra two minutes.

That gave the Sabres a chance with the man advantage, which Tyler Ennis took advantage of to make it 1-0 in favor of the Sabres.

In the end, Weber came out of tonight’s game with a pair of hits and a team-high six blocked shots (tied with Ristolainen). He also had one takeaway, one shot on goal and one attempt blocked.

Who could I arguably give an honorable mention to from tonight’s game?

How about Nicolas Deslauriers, who added to his hit totals with an additional six hits tonight? Deslauriers also had one missed shot and a plus-1 rating in 16:21 ice time.

He continues to be an iron man as the lone Sabres player to appear in every game this season, and continues to make a physical impact every night on the ice.

Next up, the Buffalo Sabres get right back at things on Tuesday night as the team visits the Boston Bruins for another nationally-televised game. The puck drops at TD Garden at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday as the Buffalo Sabres’ season continues to wind down.

Next: Sabres' Questions Going Forward

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