Buffalo rolled into Anaheim and the Honda Center, looking to steal two points from the Ducks and leave the West Coast with a winning road trip. Instead, the Sabres added to the worse start in franchise history, dropping a 6-2 decision to the Ducks. Rookie Frederik Anderson started for the Ducks in net, opposite Ryan Miller for Buffalo. Their record stands now at 3-15-1 (7 points), after dropping two of three on the west coast trip.
The first period started with a great save by Miller early on Corey Perry with a wrap around. Heavy pressure from the Ducks, resulted in a bad penalty for boarding by Nikita Zadorov near the two minute mark. Only 14 seconds into the power play, a quick goal by Ryan Getzlaf put Anaheim up by one at 2:11.
Stafford hit the post behind Anderson at the mid way point of the period on a great feed by Zadorov. Cody McCormick took a poor penalty for hooking in front of the Buffalo bench, near the half way point. Once again, the Ducks scored quickly into the power play. This time, Cam Fowler wristed a puck that was deflected in the slot past Ryan Miller just 31 seconds into the man advantage.
The Sabres started to put pressure on the Ducks around the seven minute mark, on one of the better shifts of the period by the Stafford, Grogorenko and McCormick line. This resulted in a hard working goal for Grigoenko, after McCormick dug a puck out from in behind the Anaheim net. Grigorenko was able to pull the puck from backhand to forehand and slip the puck past Anderson at the 13:26 mark.
This goal seemed to wake up the Sabres a bit, until Ryan Getzlaf took a turnover in the Buffalo zone and fired it over the right should of Ryan Miler with 3:31 left, from the left circle to give the Ducks their two goal lead back. Just over three minutes later with 19.3 seconds left in the period, Getzlaf finishes off the hat trick and a four point period for Anaheim, who walked off the ice with a 4-1 lead. The dominance was not just Getzlaf, but the entire Ducks roster. Anaheim outshot Buffalo 22-7 in the first, and ran the period like a hockey clinic.
Buffalo needed to come out in the second period and show some life. The Sabres came out with some sustained pressure early on, with no success getting the puck past Frederik Anderson. The Ducks once again came out firing, and padded thier lead early in the period on a goal by Dustin Penner at the 4:53 mark. Miller had made a good save with the left shoulder, but Ristolainen could not tie up the Ducks forward before he buried it in the top right corner on the back hand.
Buffalo was afforded a power play near the 11 minute mark, of which resulted in no goal, but a couple quality shots by the Sabres. At 13:09, Grigorenko was the benifactor of another strong shift by his fourth line mates.
Corey Tropp took a nice pass off the boards from Cody McCormick, and fed the puck for a pretty wrist shot over the right shoulder of Anderson to cut the lead to 5-2 Anaheim. Teemu Selanne was stopped by Ryan Miller on three separate occasions, once on a point blank shot in front about ten feet out to keep the Sabres deficit at three.
After keeping the Ducks at bay for most of the back end of the period, Andrew Cogliano coasted in front of Ryan Miller and slid the puck through the pads of the Buffalo netminder. There was a break down in coverage, and Larsson failed to tie up the stick of the Ducks forward. Once again, the Sabres give up a goal late in the period, this time with 1:07 left on the clock.
The third period saw the Sabres pulling Ryan Miller and giving him the third period off, with Jhonas Enroth coming in for a relief appearance. As in the second period, the Ducks took an early penalty placing Buffalo on the power play. Luca Sbisa placed a high elbow into the jaw shield of Corey Tropp, for an “illegal check to the head” penalty.
The Sabres could not generate any scoring chances, squandering another man advantage. Enroth came in and didn’t look rusty at all, coming up with some quality and acrobatic saves against a never quite Ducks team. The Ducks were in no modd to press Buffalo in the third, playing protect the lead with being up four goals.
Once again on this road trip, the top two lines which house the veteran skaters for the Sabres failed to show up. The bottom two were the only skaters to show up and put forth any effort tonight against the Ducks. Grigorenko had a breakout game of sorts, while playing the fewest number of minutes for the Sabres through the first two periods.
It was apparent that Ron Rolston was not happy with the play of his top line of Hodgson, Ennis and Moulson. They were benched for the last six and a half minutes in the second, and all of the third period. This allowed the bottom two lines a lot of ice time, of which they clearly earned with their hustle and good play.
As it has been most of the season, the Sabres could not place shots on net from the point, shooting them wide or into the blocking defenders. It is hard to compete with a team like Anaheim when you cannot get shots on the opposing goalie.
Outside of the 3rd and 4th lines playing well most of the game, the other bright spot was the return to the line up of Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov. Grigorenko showed a little bit of that offense Sabres fans have been dying to see, and Zadorov played his style of game and hit everything in a Ducks uniform.
Notes: Teemu Selanne made an early comeback from sustaining a scary injury to his face two weeks ago in Philadelphia; Anaheim came into this game undefeated at home; Christian Ehrhoff did not play, missing his first game of the season with a lower body injury; John Scott was a healthy scratch in his first game eligible back from suspension; Nikita Zadorov and Mikhail Grigorenko made their way back into the lineup for the Sabres; Ryan Getzlaf score a hat trick in the first period which was the first of his career.