The Buffalo Sabres struggled at home last season, and they had more than a few games won before they let them slip away. Here are five heartbreakers.
This was by far the hardest list to concoct, since there were so many what-if moments regarding the Buffalo Sabres and their 24 losses at home. So in making today’s list, I had to go back and ask myself which losses not only stung the most, but also played a pivotal role in handing the Sabres their 12th straight season without a playoff appearance.
Therefore, you won’t see any blowout losses on this list, like their 4-0 collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers (their only regulation loss in the Goatheads last season), or their 10-4 meltdown vs. the Dallas Stars. No, the following games, had the Blue and Gold won a couple of them, would have, with all things being equal, catapulted the team into the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Most heartbreaking home losses for the 2022-23 Buffalo Sabres
5 – Sabres give up two three straight goals to division rival
The Buffalo Sabres had a rough outing in November 2022, finishing the month 4-9-1, and sustaining their fair share of blowout losses. But nothing hurt them more than their 6-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a game that saw them allow three unanswered goals while on their way to yet another loss.
Ironically, Tampa took a 2-0 lead in this one before the Sabres tied it at two by the end of the first period. The second period saw the two sides trading one goal apiece, while Buffalo scored another pair of goals over the first 14 minutes, 19 seconds of the third period.
Then, the wheels came off, as the old cliche goes, and Tampa scored two unanswered in the game’s final five minutes and 25 seconds. A little over halfway through the overtime period, Steven Stamkos sunk the game-winner in overtime in front of a stunned audience at KeyBank Center.
4 – Skinner’s meltdown puts Buffalo behind the eight-ball
The Buffalo Sabres were coming off a dynamic performance against the Columbus Blue Jackets and they wanted to score another W against the Pittsburgh Penguins as an encore. And for a minute there, they seemed on pace to get that win, taking a 2-1 lead after the second period.
The third frame was all Pittsburgh, and they took a 3-2 lead with 3:30 to go in regulation, but Kyle Okposo sank a power play goal with 90 seconds left to force overtime. Unfortunately, with just 22 seconds to go, Jeff Skinner lost his cool and received a match penalty that further resulted in a three-game suspension.
Just 96 seconds into the extra period, Jeff Carter scored the power play goal and gave Pittsburgh the W. To make matters worse, the Sabres played the Penguins in a back-to-back and lost 3-1 the following evening.