Unfortunately for the Buffalo Sabres, you can’t win them all. Last night the Sabres dropped to 5-1-1 after losing to the Anaheim Ducks 5-2.
Well, that wasn’t fun. For the first time this season the Sabres looked very pedestrian against a good Anaheim team. The evening wasn’t all bad, the Sabres came out of the gate looking sharp as usaul. Early in the first, Buffalo kept the puck mostly in Anaheim territory and seven minutes into the game, Jack Eichel scored the games first goal.
For Eichel it was his fourth goal of the year. It was a classic Eichel shot, he was able to fool the goaltender with some stick movement and then hit home the backhanded wrist shot. As the first period continued on, Buffalo continued to look good. Later in the first Buffalo got a power play chance and for the sixth time in seven games, Victor Olofsson scored.
For Olofsson he set him self up nicely to take a close slap shot. From that distance with no coverage, he will make it just about every time. Right after this goal is where things started to go down hill. With just over a minute left, Buffalo allowed Adam Henrique to score to make the game 2-1. This year closing out periods has been an issue for Buffalo, the Sabres seem to get lazy late in periods and let the other team score. This is something that Ralph Krueger and company need to address. If you only play hard for 18 minutes in a period, that leaves the door open for bad things to happen.
The second period was undoubtedly the worst period of the season for the Sabres. Just under a minute into the period Rickard Rakell snuck a shot past Linus Ullmark to make the game 2-2. The Ducks were able to keep the puck mostly in the Buffalo zone for the second and about halfway through the period the Ryan Getzlaf scored to give the Ducks the lead. This goal was the turning point in the game.
After Getzlaf’s goal, the game got extremely chippy. The tensions on both sides boiled over and over the course of the second we saw a combined 9 roughing penalties. This is when the game truly got away from the Sabres, they couldn’t match the physicality of Anaheim. When things got chippy, it seemed like the Sabres just couldn’t hang with the blows. With about 20 seconds left in the second Adam Henrique scored again to put the game essentially away for Anaheim.
There’s not a lot to be said about the third period, the Ducks played keep away fairly effectively limiting Buffalo to just 6 shots on goal in the third and outside of an empty net goal by Jakob Silfverberg there was no scoring in the third. Ultimately, the Ducks hung on to win 5-2.
In net, Linus Ullmark had his worst night to date. Throughout the game he didn’t defend the net very well, and made a few poor attempts at stopping some of the goals in the second period. For Ullmark he had a great first two games, but on this night against Anaheim he was brought back down to earth.
The biggest takeaway from this game is that Buffalo needs to be more physical when they have to be. That was the biggest difference in this game, Buffalo simply couldn’t match Anaheim’s physicality. Let’s hope the next two games of this road trip go better than the first one did.
Still, if nothing else the Sabres are 5-1-1 and this is the first game of the year they didn’t take any points.