Brutal 3rd costs Sabres
Anaheim scores four times in final 20 minutes to rout Sabres, 5-2
The 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks marks a continuing trend for the Buffalo Sabres this season. Too many times this year the Sabres have followed up convincing victories with equally convincing losses.
One step forward, two steps back.
This loss to the Ducks is just that, a typical and easily predictable step back.
The 1st period featured a more balanced start for the Sabres though, unlike the roller-coaster ride against the Sharks on Tuesday night. Both teams traded chances and zone time fairly evenly. Of course “the cardiac kids” had to give a tug on the heart-strings of Sabres fans, as they gave up a goal with just under three seconds to go in the period, Corey Perry’s 10th of the year.
The 2nd period started with a unique circumstance as Ducks goaltender John Gibson had an apparent equipment issue, bringing in a cold backup in Johnathan Bernier. This golden opportunity to pepper a cold backup was immediately nullified as Tyler Ennis was nailed with a tripping penalty.
Really bad timing.
Justin Baily’s speed and tenacity helped draw a power play for the Sabres though. With Gibson back in net, the Sabres found themselves with an opportunity to get even. Almost instantly the game was tied at one as O’ Reilly won a faceoff to Okposo, who, on a subtle touch pass, fed Eichel for a his 13th goal of the year.
Seemingly in a good place, the Sabres came out into the 3rd period tied at 1 with a perennial western conference power-house.
The Ducks showed their true colors though, and the Sabres showed theirs.
Not even a minute into the 3rd period, Correy Perry found a wide-open Rickard Rakell, who blew another timely goal past a helpless Robin Lehner.
Being down 2-1 certainly hasn’t frazzled this maturing Sabres team of late, but a timely 4-minute high-sticking penalty by O’ Reilly signaled the impending collapse in this game.
The 29th place penalty kill was no match for the Ducks power play, as veteran-winger Antoine Vermette scored his 8th goal of the year, and the game winner.
Asking this team to come back from a 4-1 deficit again is simply just not possible. Rasmus Ristolainen got a goal late, but getting another goal from Perry and an empty netter from Cogliano, the Ducks proved to be the much superior team. The Sabres ended up being out-shot 44-26.
While many comeback wins of late for the Sabres show signs of a team that refuses to quit, it also shows a team that refuses to play a full 60-minute game on most nights. Though the Sabres are still in arms reach of a playoff spot, fans should just accept that this is what .500 hockey looks like – and it’s simply not a sustainable brand of hockey.
The Sabres face-off next against the Maple Leafs in Toronto Saturday night at 7 p.m. The Leafs have won both of the previous two matchups this year.