One dramatically underrated takeaway from the Buffalo Sabres big win over the Senators

The Buffalo Sabres allowed the Ottawa Senators to claw back into the game twice last night, but they kept their composure to earn two points.
Jan 11, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens (24) celebrates his goal
Jan 11, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens (24) celebrates his goal / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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The last thing the Buffalo Sabres needed last night was to allow the Ottawa Senators to repeat what happened on New Year's Eve. To close out 2023, the Sens embarrassed the Sabres in a 5-1 outing, leaving the Blue and Gold’s season at more than just a few crossroads. 

Thankfully, that didn’t happen last night, as even when the Sabres allowed their first goal of the game nearly six minutes following JJ Peterka’s score, they didn’t sustain a repeat of Tuesday night’s meltdown. If you remember correctly, Jeff Skinner scored early and Buffalo was playing an outstanding game until Yanni Gourde found the back of the net. After Gourde’s goal the Sabres lost their composure and became a different team for the rest of the contest. 

They could have let that happen following Vladimir Tarasenko's unassisted goal, but Tage Thompson had other ideas, scoring not once, but twice before the period ended.

Buffalo Sabres never lost their composure in last night’s win

The real challenge came in the third frame when Claude Giroux scored just 43 seconds into the closing stanza, foreshadowing a tragic movie many Sabres fans have watched this season. Often, when the Blue and Gold allowed an early goal, especially one in the first minute or two, they were bound to allow more. And the last thing they needed was a monumental collapse in such a pivotal game. 

While the sense of urgency understandably rose for the Senators, it didn’t deter the Buffalo Sabres, despite the fact that Giroux scored again at the 11:15 mark of the third. Both goals came thanks to sloppy play in the defensive zone, but to the Blue and Gold’s credit, they didn’t suffer another breakdown for the rest of the contest. 

This is yet another implication that the team is growing the further we dive into the 2024 calendar year. Between October and December, it was almost a given that Ottawa would have forced overtime after clawing to a one-goal deficit just over midway through the period. 

But it wasn’t to be, as the Sabres kept their composure and refused to let Giroux’s pair of goals get to them. They didn’t get caught overthinking, hesitating, or second-guessing themselves, and it’s why they skated away from KeyBank Center last night with two points.

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