The Buffalo Sabres may have allowed three goals in nearly three-and-a-half minutes late, but don’t blame Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
The Buffalo Sabres may have won 6-4 against one of their most heated rivals, but it didn’t come as easily as the 5-1 score indicated with roughly five minutes to go in the contest. And no, if you missed the game and you’re just now reading about what happened, that’s not a typo – the Sabres were up 5-1 with five minutes left, and ended up narrowly escaping a complete meltdown.
Brady Tkachuk and Alex Tuch squared off in a fight at the 16:50 mark, roughly a minute-and-a-half following Vladimir Tarasenko’s goal to bring the Senators within three. After another scuffle occurred at the 17:23 mark, this one involving Dylan Cozens, the Sabres allowed a power play goal at 18:38 before Mathieu Joseph made it a one-goal game at the 18:58 mark.
Want more fun? Zemgus Girgensons was called for a trip at 19:24, and it gave Ottawa yet another opportunity on the man advantage. Luckily, Tage Thompson put an end to the madness, and scored an empty-netter while the Sabres were short-handed to seal the win.
Can’t blame goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen for the Buffalo Sabres meltdown
While the Sabres put on a clinic of how to score efficiently through the game’s first 40 minutes, they also put on a clinic of what not to do defensively in the game’s closing moments. For one, they let the Senators bait them, as we saw with Dylan Cozens that eventually led to a 10-minute misconduct.
For another, you can’t break down further defensively just 20 measly seconds after the Senators brought the game to within two goals. They basically left Mathieu Joseph untouched while he skated up and stood in the slot right in front of Luukkonen. When the Buffalo Sabres decided to account for him, it was already too late, and the puck found its way into the back of the net.
Overall, the Sabres first re-energized the Sens and everyone in the Canadian Tire Centre with that extracurricular activity, and it’s something they need to stay away from when in control of a game. And for another, this team once again cannot stop playing defense after allowing a power play goal after giving the Sens and their fans not only energy, but also momentum.
Sure, you celebrate wins any which way they come, but you also need to learn from your mistakes. And while Luukkonen is not the world’s greatest goaltender by any stretch and he may have allowed those three late goals, he was by no means responsible for the team’s near-meltdown.
(Statistics and data provided by NHL.com)