After dropping two games in two nights earlier this week by a combined score of 9-4, it’s almost inconceivable that the Buffalo Sabres would have managed to close out this West coast road trip with the most deflating loss of them all.
But what else do you call it when Rasmus Ristolainen earns the first Sabres’ hat trick in over two years, and the team allows the Calgary Flames to get the go-ahead (and eventual game winning) goal just fifty-five seconds later?
The story of the game was the Sabres—or, more accurately, just Ristolainen—battling back to make things even with Calgary, only for the team to let their efforts slip away in the blink of an eye.
After falling behind in a miserable second period on goals by Calgary’s Sean Monahan and Markus Granlund, Ristolainen finally got his squad back in the game by rattling off two goals in just a little over two minutes. Both came on the power play, and both were—not surprisingly—rocket slap shots from afar that completely blew by Flames netminder Jhonas Hiller.
Monahan put Calgary back into the lead about five minutes later with his second goal on the night, leaving Ristolainen to have to strike one more time. The young defenseman swung behind the Calgary net with under six minutes to go before throwing the puck from an odd angle that managed to carom off a mess of players in the crease and find the back of the net, giving Ristolainen the honor of the first hat trick by a Buffalo Sabre since Thomas Vanek notched one back on January 31st, 2013.
But fifty-five seconds later, it was hard to celebrate that any longer. The Sabres defense once again broke down in their own zone, and goaltender Chad Johnson allowed a soft goal from Johnny Gaudreau which put Calgary ahead 4-3. Ristolainen never managed to bail his team out for a fourth time on the night, and the Sabres skated off with their third loss in a row on this road trip.
It’s hard to argue that this may have been the most frustrating loss for the Sabres thus far in this up and down season.
Buffalo will return home this weekend and look to get their skates under them again in time for Saturday night, when they’ll welcome the Los Angeles Kings to First Niagara Center. It will be the first meeting between the two teams this season. Game time is scheduled for 7:00 PM EST.