Rodrigues’ two-goal night not enough


Buffalo’s midwest road trip continued to unravel on Sunday night, culminating in the second overtime loss in as many games after a 3-2 defeat at the Scottrade Center.

From the very get-go, Sabres fans were reminded just why the St. Louis Blues are 1st in the Central Division, 7th in the league for goals per game, and 3rd overall in the league standings. The Blues proverbially punched Buffalo in the mouth just forty seconds into the contest on a goal from Brayden Schenn, continuing what has been an absolute blistering year for the Blues’ center. His goal was his 16th on the year and his 37th point in 31 games played.

“I think we respected that team in the beginning, we respected them too much, I thought our 3rd period was very strong, we needed to start the game that way,” said Sabres head coach Phil Housley following the game.

The early St. Louis goal forced Buffalo to tighten down on defense in a hurry, which the Sabres’ then largely succeeded aside from a second period tally by Paul Stastny, but the Sabres’ offense couldn’t match the pace until well into the game. For the second contest in a row, Buffalo was drastically outshot by the opposition; St. Louis held the shot advantage 25-14 after two periods, and finished the night 45-24 in their favor.

The Sabres only began to mount some semblance of a comeback in the third period–or, more accurately, Evan Rodrigues did. Playing in just his third game wearing blue and gold this season, Rodrigues put Buffalo on the scoreboard early and late in the final period, tallying his first two goals on the year. At 1:42 in the third he notched one on the power play, and with just 87 seconds to play he managed to tie the contest 2-2 with the Buffalo net empty.

His furious effort secured Buffalo a point, but it wasn’t enough to get them two. St. Louis proved that they’ve earned their 20-8-2 record by being able to finish just as impressively as they can start. With just over thirty seconds remaining in the Overtime period, Vladimir Tarasenko soared past Jack Eichel and Evander Kane before sneaking the puck past Robin Lehner to give St. Louis the win.

“I think in the 3rd we played a little more free, that’s when we played our best,” said Rodrigues. “It was a good point, but obviously we would’ve liked two points.”

Lehner put on a second stellar performance in as many games, facing down an offense equally as potent as Chicago’s was on Friday night and withstanding it admirably enough to give Buffalo a chance to steal a victory. In his last two starts (both OT losses), Lehner surrendered just six goals on the whopping 96 shots thrown his way.

His efforts in net may have been rewarded if Buffalo’s power play had shown more life. The entirety of the fame was a very sloppy, chippy affair with plenty of penalties taken by both teams. Justin Falk had the roughest night, marching to the penalty box three times. The Blues were far from disciplined, themselves, but Buffalo only managed to capitalize on one of the four opportunities they had with the power play.

With the road trip over, Buffalo will next return home for a Tuesday night meeting with the Ottawa Senators. That game will have a usual 7 PM EST start time from the KeyBank Center.



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