For the second time in as many games, the Sabres suffered a difficult loss, this one at the hands of the San Jose Sharks by a score of 5-1. They fall to 1-2 on their current five-game road trip and to 3-4 on the season.
After keeping within striking distance through two periods, the Sabres faltered early in the third as Logan Couture potted his second goal of the game at 4:54 of the period. Hard work by former Sabre Evander Kane, as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen in front, led to the Sharks third goal of the game which erased any hope for a Sabres comeback.
Kane finished with two assists in his first meeting against his former club since being traded at the deadline last season.
Just as they struggled in the latter portions of the game, the Sabres probably had the worst start they could have envisioned – especially after a horrendous outing against the Vegas Golden Knights last game.
Only 1:45 into the game, locker-room leader and veteran Kyle Okposo took a double-minor high-sticking infraction, allowing the Sharks a four-minute power-play.
San Jose didn’t hesitate to attack. Joonas Donskoi initiated the scoring, putting the puck past Sabres’ netminder Carter Hutton after the initial save on an Erik Karlsson shot. Only moments later Couture scored to give the Sharks a commanding and early 2-0 lead.
The Sabres had their opportunities, however, especially on the power play. But what’s now starting to sound like a broken record only a handful of games into the season, the Sabres failed to capitalize.
Whether it be bad passing, failed zone entries and retrievals, or just lacking a “shot mentality” the Sabres just could not reverse their bad fortune on the man-advantage. They finished a measly 0-5, while the Sharks struck on three of their seven opportunities.
Despite the lack of success on special teams, they did however show some signs of life 5-on-5. Jake McCabe scored the first and only goal for Buffalo, on what was just some simple and hard-working hockey.
After a clean Casey Mittelstadt face-off win, a shot from the point by Rasmus Dahlin led to a battle in front of Sharks goalie Martin Jones. Hard work by Jeff Skinner led to Jake McCabe corralling the puck along the half-wall which he then rifled past Jones for his first goal of the year.
It was the epitome of the “shot mentality” head coach Phil Housley so frequently touts. Buffalo, however, could not reproduce much of that the rest of the game.
It went downhill after Couture’s second goal as Sharks captain Joe Pavelski knotted his fourth of the year giving San Jose a 4-1 lead. Couture capped off an impressive performance with an empty net goal, giving him the hat-trick and the Sharks a 5-1 victory.
Emotions ran high in the dying moments of the game as many players scuffled including Zach Bogosian and Jake McCabe. We will see if this display of emotion translates into inspired play as the road trip progresses through California.
The Sabres have the opportunity for redemption this Saturday in a matinee affair against the Los Angeles Kings. Puck drop is slated for 3:30 PM ET.