The Buffalo Sabres struggled offensively through the first four games of the season, but in Game 5, they showed enough to beat New York.
There were plenty of major takeaways in the Buffalo Sabres win last night over the New York Islanders. But if there was one thing the Sabres learned, it’s that they finally found a way to beat defensive-minded teams like the New York Islanders by simply giving themselves hordes of scoring chances.
I can’t stress enough that the sample size remains small, but heading into last night’s game, the Islanders had given up just seven goals in three contests. Four of those seven goals game when they were shorthanded, and it indicated the best chance the Sabres had of winning last night would have involved drawing penalty after penalty. While the Black and Red drew one early thanks to Tyson Jost getting tripped up, they once again converted none of them in three tries.
Buffalo Sabres should have figured out defensive-minded teams last night
With yet another ineffective power play, the Sabres needed to find a consolation, and it involved relentlessly shooting pucks at the net. The Greenway – Tage – Cozens line was especially effective, with Tage Thompson and Dylan Cozens logging a combined iCF of 21 at 5-on-5, per Hockey-Reference.
But it was more than just the Sabres overall 64.6 CF% (also at 5-on-5) in this game that gave them the win. As I stated last night, Buffalo shined defensively and played 60 minutes of solid hockey.
Routinely getting the puck to the net and creating opportunities for yourself to the point something will eventually sneak past an opposing goaltender is one thing. Yet the Buffalo Sabres are in a completely different ballpark (or hockey rink) if they didn’t pull through defensively and shut down opportunities.
Sure, the Sabres need to swarm the crease offensively when they face the NHL’s best defenses. But they will dominate when they constantly get their stick on the puck in the neutral and defensive zones, which will, in turn, keep the score low enough for them to win by multiple goals.
(Statistics and data provided by Hockey-Reference)