Life without Ryan O’Reilly began very quietly for the Buffalo Sabres tonight as they were shut out by the Anaheim Ducks, 1-0. O’Reilly, who leads the team in points and will miss 3-4 weeks following a lower-body injury that he sustained during Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, was sorely missed this evening as the Sabres offense lacked any luster on the ice.
The most glaring weakness came on the power play, where Buffalo failed to find the back of the net on four different occasions with the man-advantage. The power play—and their offense in general—waned significantly as the game went on. The Sabres had two different man advantage opportunities in the third period, including one that came just three seconds after the opening faceoff, but they ended the period with a mere six shots on goal.
Their penalty kill went one-for-three on the night, and their sole stumble allowed the Ducks to skate off home ice with the win. Anaheim scored the game’s lone goal a little more than three minutes into the second period, when defenseman Sami Vatanen unleashed a hard slapshot from near the blue line that slipped past a number of Sabres and Ducks before beating Buffalo starting netminder Robin Lehner on his right side.
It was the one and only time Lehner lost his poise; the Sabres goaltender rebounded tremendously following a four-goal outing on Sunday against the Penguins. Lehner, who was sporting a brand-new mask this evening, kept Buffalo in the game for sixty minutes and was undeniably their best player on the ice. He finished the evening stopping 28 of 29 Anaheim shots.
Anaheim’s netminder Frederik Andersen put on an equally—if not, even better—show. He thwarted all 26 shots that Buffalo placed on net as he secured his 15th win on the season and his fourth consecutive. Like Lehner, Andersen showed drastic improvement from his previous outings, where he gave up seven goals in his last two games.
The Sabres will continue their California road trip this Friday when they head to San Jose to visit the Sharks. Like tonight, that game will be another late one for fans back in Buffalo who wish to catch all the action. Puck drop is scheduled for 10:30 PM EST.