Sabres suffer 4th straight loss


A slumping Sabres team failed to tame a surging Red Wings club, losing 3-1 Friday night at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. It’s their fourth straight loss.

Phil Housley has preached repeatedly of late about ‘taking what the game gives you’. Well, tonight the Sabres did their fair share of ‘giving’ to the Red Wings in the form of power play opportunities.

Ironically, the Sabres penalty kill stood tall throughout the game, killing off all five of their short-handed attempts. However, it proved almost impossible to roll four lines and generate any amount of momentum.

“To a man, we are embarrassed with it, the penalties killed it, I’m supposed to be a leader of this team, I need to get these guys going” – Ryan O’Reilly

Robin Lehner did his part, being the Sabres’ best penalty-killer and overall player throughout the game. He stopped 30 of 33 shots, many of which were grade-A chances.

The Sabres refused to provide him with any run support though. They were grossly outplayed, getting outshot 30-23 and spending the majority of time in their own zone.

The lone goal for Buffalo came from Ryan O’Reilly early in the third period. O’Reilly cashed in on an open cage as Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard found himself somewhat out of position, making a save on a Victor Antipin shot. In fact, he appeared so out of position that Detroit challenged the goal for goaltender interference.

It appeared Kyle Okposo’s skate dragged Howard’s left pad, and invariably his body away from making a save on O’Reilly’s shot. Fortunately, the call went the Sabres way as Okposo’s contact came outside of Howard’s crease.

This tied the game at 1. This could have been the turning-point the Sabres needed. After surviving two periods and repeatedly getting bailed out by Lehner, the Sabres found themselves tied in the third period with a red-hot team.

However, Buffalo lacked composure and Detroit continued to pile on. About halfway through the third period, Tomas Tatar fired a blistering shot through a screen, beating Lehner for his fifth goal of the season.

Dylan Larkin scored Detroit’s third goal minutes later after pouncing on a juicy rebound from Lehner – one of his few mistakes of the game. This goal sealed the deal.

So, a positive night on the penalty-kill led to a poor night on the score sheet for the Sabres. They shot themselves in the foot by allowing a 5th place power-play to go to work throughout the night.

In a broad sense, it is encouraging that the Sabres penalty-kill is vastly improved from last season, in which they finished in last-place. To this point in the season, they’ve hovered around the middle of the league.

Despite the improved penalty-kill, the Sabres record continues to deteriorate. They now sit at the bottom of the Atlantic division with a record of 5-10-4, good enough for only 14 points.

The Sabres are back in action tomorrow night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.



Matt Studemeyer
Matt Studemeyer
Although born and raised in Charleston, SC, I've had a passion for both hockey and the Buffalo Sabres since childhood. In addition to writing, I'm also an avid musician/guitarist and currently work in the moving and transportation industry.
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