Production was not there when it was most needed. That is a familiar phrase that we heard all too often last season.
The Buffalo Sabres were looking to begin the 2014-15 season with a good start by getting a victory at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets. However, the Sabres end up on the short end of a 3-1 loss on Thursday night at the First Niagara Center.
“I didn’t like our effort tonight,” Sabres head coach Ted Nolan said. “I thought it was okay at best. I don’t know where it was. I think guys really wanted to do it. Maybe there was too much jitters with home openers, too much hype.”
The Sabres only put up 22 shots on Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, and were a non factor the whole game offensively. The Sabres also played some undisciplined hockey by taking five penalties in the game. Sabres captain Brian Gionta felt that penalties were one of the team’s biggest problems in tonight’s game.
“We took too many penalties, and that obviously led to their go-ahead goal. We need to be better in that aspect,” said Gionta.
Gionta finished the night with four shots on goal in 15:39 of total ice-time.
Buffalo’s second overall pick in June’s draft Sam Reinhart was relatively quiet throughout the game. Reinhart finished with no shots on goal in 13:37 of total ice-time, and was only four of eleven on faceoffs. For Reinhart’s first NHL game, he felt it was a good game, even with the result not being in the Sabres favor.
“The atmosophere was great,” Reinhart said. “The older guys have helped me a lot throughout this process… I think I got progressively better as the game went on, and I felt my confidence getting higher and higher throughout the game.”
“He was ok for an 18-year old kid jumping in against a team like Columbus. They’re a good team,” Ted Nolan said. “He gets to do it again next game against Chicago, and then we got Anaheim, [Los Angeles]. Every team in this league is a good team, and he’s got to study and study quick.”
Buffalo’s lone goal came off the stick of Zemgus Girgensons at the 14:42 mark of the second period. Girgensons slipped the puck through David Savard’s legs, and scored on a partial breakaway against Bobrovsky. Girgensons finished the night with his goal, two shots, a blocked shot, and won eight of 15 faceoffs taken.
Jhonas Enroth played well in net making 37 saves on 40 shots faced. Enroth looked solid positionally and kept the Sabres in the game throughout.
The Sabres will next head to Chicago on Saturday night to face the Blackhawks from the United Center. The puck will drop shortly after 8:30pm and the game can be seen on MSG Network.