Well Sabres fans, the season has finally arrived. Unfortunately, not in the way we hoped. The Sabres fell short to the Ottawa Senators last night 3-1 in the team’s first game of the 2015-16 season.
Still, the First Niagara Center was packed and the organization got things started with some nice effects.
Ottawa got on the board with Kyle Turris scoring 30 seconds in, beating Robin Lehner on the glove side. Nothing Lehner could do on the shot. Turris was left wide open in the slot. Cody Franson got beat by Mike Hoffman while Mike Weber had to defend Mark Stone. Sabres forwards were also late in back checking.
Buffalo played pretty well the rest of the first period, settling their nerves and showing the potential they have as a team.
The second period, however, is where things look like it’s taking a turn for the worse. Robin Lehner has to leave the game with 12:30 left in the second with what it looked like a knee or
groin injury. Lehner left the game making 11 saves on 12 shots. So in comes Chad Johnson.
With 9:11 left in the second, the Sens went up 2-0 with Turris’ second goal of the night. Ottawa capitalized after a giveaway by Rasmus Ristolainen.
Risto tried to put the puck off the board behind Johnson but it was blocked by Stone, who gave the puck to Hoffman, who takes the initial shot but it was blocked by David Legwand.
The third period is where the fun begins. With 12:15 left, Senators defenseman Patrick Wiercioch took a hooking penalty. Buffalo got their first goal of the season on the power play and guess who scored; Jack Eichel! He beat Craig Anderson top shelf right over his left shoulder. Perfect shot, perfect first goal in his first game for the 18 year old.
Then with the crowd buzzing it looked like Buffalo tied the game when Evander Kane seemed to get his first goal as a Sabre. But after Ottawa used the new coache’s challenge, the goal was waived off due to Zemgus Girgensons being a half inch offside.
Afterwards, Buffalo remained on the attack for the rest of the game, but couldn’t beat Craig Anderson again. Ottawa got an empty net goal from Curtis Lazar to seal a 3-1 victory.
Overall, the Sabres played a very good first game. The third period was all Sabres as they outshot the Sens 14-4 and outshooting them in the game 27-22. Zach Bogosian’s absence really showed as he brought the steady defensive game, while logging in lots of minutes.
Ottawa’s aggressiveness on defense is what won them the game. It is a similar style Buffalo should be playing all year. Once the season gets going, we will see the true potential of this team.
Game 1 is done, and the grind begins!