Florence and the Machine does a song called the Dog Days Are Over and we are closing in on finally saying that. The Sabres lost tonight, but the last few weeks may finally be the turning point of this young roster. This was a quality effort by the team.
The first period was a low energy compared to the rest of the game, but I liked the Sabres willingness to use the body early on to establish the tempo of the game. Buffalo had a good forecheck for the majority of the game and pushed the play to the front of Tuuka Rask which you have to do if you’re going to beat him.
The Sabres first goal by Evander Kane was credit to that hard work when he took a nice pass from Gionta on the right side of Rask and roofed it left. Speaking of Evander Kane, this game is what every fan has been expecting all season from him. He had a career high 11 shots, scored once, and even strength Corsi of 60%. When he was on the ice the Sabres pushed the play.
Buffalo continued their strong play early in the second with Mark Pysk’s shot from the point being deflected in by Sam Reinhart to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead. Once again the Sabres forecheck created this goal with the hard work by Jamie McGinn and Ryan O”Reilly to keep the puck in.
Jack Eichel had an odd game by his standards. He was on the ice for both Boston goals and probably should’ve picked up Ryan Spooner goal on the right side of Chad Johnson just 58 seconds after Reinhart’s goal that closed the gap to 2-1 Buffalo. But he also led the forward with a Corsi of 62% (not including Matt Moulson who only played 9 minutes) while creating nice rushes and drawing a penalty. While Boston controlled a lot of the second, Chad Johnson and the Buffalo defense did a nice job limiting scoring opportunities.
The third was where the Sabres still showed signs of growing. They lost the lead after they failed to cover Brad Marchand after they failed to score on the powerplay and Chad Johnson gave up a poor goal. The rest of the period the Sabres had a lot of nice chances but failed to finish. In overtime after killing off the Boston power play, the Sabres got one of their own with Eichel, Ristolianen, and Ryan O’Reilly all having great chances but just missing to close the game out.
Like I said earlier the Sabres played a quality game and you can see they are a lot closer to being a true threat then earlier this season. They still need more secondary scoring, their defense at points needs to tighten up, and goaltending is a work in progress. But given their recent performances the gap to being a threat is closing quickly.
Evander Kane: Even with his poor slashing penalty in OT he was dynamite. He drove play and his goal was very nice. Hope he builds off this game from here.
Penalty Kill: Buffalo took two penalties late in the game (one in 3rd/one in OT) that Buffalo did a great job killing off especially with the pressure of the situation. Credit to Larsson and the other guys working hard to kill those.
Jack Eichel: -2, lost 66% of his faceoffs, and had a giveaway on the night. He did well driving play in Boston’s end, but the goals scored show a young player going through the ups and downs of learning the league. He missed his assignment badly covering Spooner when he scored.
Injuries: The Sabres have lost 212 man-games to injury second in the NHL to Edmonton. With Tyler Ennis havin a major concussion and out indefinitely, the last thing Buffalo needed was Marcus Foligno leaving the game with an upper body injury.