Buffalo entered tonight’s game, looking to do something that has eluded them this season: winning at the First Niagara Center.
The Sabres began the period, as if they were shot out of a cannon. Many good chances were had, and a few pucks were close to being put in the net.
Jonas Hiller is the sole reason that the Sabres did not score in the first period. On a mini-breakaway by Sabres forward Drew Stafford, Hiller was beat but ended up trapping the puck with his pads before the puck trickled in.
Entering the second period of a tied game, the Ducks began things on an abbreviated power play.
As the period began, the intensity was present from both teams.
Buffalo turned up the heat once they found themselves on the power play.
Matt Moulson found himself behind the Ducks’ net with the puck, as Cody Hodgson crashed the net untouched. A beautiful Moulson pass was put away almost instantly by Hodgson, for his 5th goal of the season. “My game is better when I get to know the guys I’m playing with,” said Moulson. “Cody was calling for that one, and luckily it found him and he did a great job of putting it in.”
This was only the 2nd time in 16 games that Buffalo had themselves a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately, things would go horrifically wrong for Buffalo, beginning less than two minutes later.
As Dustin Penner raced towards the Sabres net, he quickly passed the puck over to Ryan Getzlaf, which caught Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth in a bit of a bad spot. This allowed Getzlaf to dump the puck over Enroth’s left shoulder. This was Getzlaf’s 6th goal of the season, and the game was tied 1-1.
Getzlaf’s goal would be the straw that broke the camel’s back, also referred to as the first of five consecutive scored by the Ducks.
As the period began to dwindle down, the Sabres kept pace with the Ducks, but the bottom quickly fell out. At 15:18, Sami Vatanen was left uncovered and rushed the net as he was being fed a great pass from Andrew Cogliano. This was Vatanen’s first of the season, putting Anaheim up 2-1.
Just 34 seconds later, almost the same play occurred. Mathieu Perreault was left alone right in front of Jhonas Enroth. The rebound from Perreault’s shot directed itself right to the stick of Emerson Etem, who put the rebound home for his 3rd goal of the season. Anaheim was now up 3-1.
“The first period was really good for us,” said Tyler Myers. “I thought we carried it into the second period, just a couple mistakes they (Anaheim) capitalized on.”
When the Sabres came out for the third period, it was clear that they were playing on their heels from the first puck drop. The Ducks controlled the puck possession as well as the physical play.
This would be no more apparent than when Corey Perry showed the Sabres why he is often talked as one of the league’s best goal scorers. Perry ripped a wicked wrist shot, at 4:50, that cleanly beat Jhonas Enroth. This was Perry’s 7th goal of the season, and Anaheim’s 4th goal of the game.
Only 39 seconds later, Perreault and Etem struck the Sabres again. This time, Perreault passed the puck to a wide open Etem, who scored at ease. Cody McCormick and Christian Ehrhoff were badly burned by the Ducks on this play. This was Etem’s second goal of the game, and Anaheim’s 5th goal.
Following that goal, Buffalo seemed to regain a little steam when, at 5:29, Henrik Tallinder scored his 1st goal of the season on a clean shot from the blueline. This was Buffalo’s 2nd goal of the game, and it broke the streak of 5 consecutive Anaheim goals.
Buffalo continued to slowly build offensive momentum, and would strike again late. Tyler Myers found himself joining the offense, after making a great play to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Myers nabbed a rebound, and put the puck over Hiller’s shoulder. Myers’ first goal of the season was his first since February 26, 2013. It was also the Sabres 3rd goal of the game.
The only assist on Myers’ goal went to rookie Johan Larsson. This was Larsson’s first career NHL point.
Just when things were going smooth for Buffalo, Corey Perry shows back up to re-remind why he is a great goal scorer. Perry got himself behind the Sabres defense, and into a breakaway. Jhonas Enroth had almost no chance, as Perry scored his 8th of the season and 2nd of the night. Anaheim now had a 6-3 lead, which would stand as the final score.
“We are facing a lot of adversity right now,” said Cody Hodgson. “At the end of the day, it’s what we do on the ice and right not it’s not good enough.”
The Buffalo Sabres take the ice again this Tuesday night, when they travel to San Jose to take on the Sharks. Puck drops shortly after 10:30 PM on MSG.