The Buffalo Sabres went into the Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday night looking for redemption following a disheartening loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs last Thursday. The team was able to do just that, defeating the Ottawa Senators by a score of 2-1 thanks to what was arguably Robin Lehner’s best performance as a Sabre.
Despite a scoreless first period, it wasn’t without its highlights. With roughly five minutes remaining in the first frame, Sabres’ goaltender Robin Lehner made a fantastic save on former teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau, extending his stick after sprawling out on the ice to stop the puck before it reached the goalline. Lehner was without a doubt Buffalo’s standout tonight, stopping 32 shots against his former team, good for a .970 save percentage.
Mike Hoffman opened the scoring for the Senators less than three minutes into the second, scoring on a snap shot from the slot off of assists from Bobby Ryan and Erik Karlsson. Hoffman’s goal, which came on the power play following a too many men on the ice penalty served by Nicholas Baptiste, is just the sixth power play goal the team has allowed this season.
Kyle Okposo tied the game for the Sabres just 1:07 into the final period, deflecting a Jake McCabe shot past Senators’ goalie Craig Anderson. Okposo’s goal, his fifth of the season, officially made him the Sabres’ leading goal scorer on the year.
Just moments later, Sam Reinhart gave the Sabres their first lead of the night, slapping the loose puck into the net after Anderson stopped his initial shot. Reinhart’s goal was assisted by Rasmus Ristolainen, who’s assists alone (8) are enough to tie him with Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo as the Sabres’ leading scorer.
Buffalo finished the third period strong, killing off a four minute Dimitry Kulikov high sticking penalty to preserve the lead in the game’s final minutes. Despite a last minute scare in which the Sabres missed an empty-net goal and gave Ottawa a beautiful scoring opportunity, Buffalo was able to leave Ottawa with the 2-1 victory.
William Carrier made his NHL debut Saturday night in Ottawa, and was actually able to make quite an impact for the blue and gold. Carrier, who was acquired by the team in a trade with the St. Louis Blues in February of 2014, led the team with four hits on the night. Carrier also finished with two shots on goal and a +1 rating.
Despite not finishing the game with a point, Ryan O’Reilly played a strong game. O’Reilly led the Sabres forwards in ice time with over 22 minutes played, finishing the game with five shots on goal and one takeaway.
The Sabres should definitely take pride in their win against the Senators, as the team fought back from a 1-0 deficit in the third period to win the game in regulation. The next time Buffalo takes the ice will be Monday night in Boston, as the team takes on the Bruins for their first meeting of the year.