Comeback attempt falls short vs. Avs


The Sabres dropped their 30th regulation game of the season as they lost to the Colorado Avalanche, 5-4, at KeyBank Center on Sunday.

Prior to the game, the Sabres announced that Jack Eichel will be out the next 4-to-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain. With the injury to Eichel on Saturday in Boston, Zemgus Girgensons got back into the lineup.

Special teams was the main theme of the night. The teams had 24 total penalty minutes, but went a combined 2-for-10 on the power play. The Sabres scored a pair of short-handed goals, and a power play goal, and the Avalanche added a short-handed goal of their own, along with a power play goal as well.

The Sabres started off the game on the wrong foot as Colin Wilson got behind the defense off of a long breakout pass from former Sabre Nikita Zadorov. Just 43 seconds into the game and and the Avalanche had the lead.

“That can’t happen. We can’t let a team score in the first five minutes. I think we really got away from our game. There were some players tonight who weren’t prepared to play.” – Phil Housley

A little more than seven minutes later, Benoit Pouliot got the Sabres on the board while short-handed, shoving in a rebound past Jonathan Bernier off of a Ryan O’Reilly shot.

However, just a minute and 22 seconds later, Colorado scored their own short-handed goal when Matt Nieto put a wrist shot past Lehner’s glove on a breakaway after Rasmus Ristolainen couldn’t keep the puck in the zone.

The Sabres started off slow again in the 2nd period as Wilson received a pass from Gabriel Landeskog and ripped a wrist shot past Lehner just 1:07 in to the period. The goal was Wilson’s 100th career goal in the NHL.

Milestones were the theme of the 2th period as Casey Nelson scored his first career goal short-handed in his 30th career game on a wraparound banked off of Colorado defenseman Eric Johnson’s foot.

Ryan O’Reilly assisted on the play giving him his 400th career point and Justin Falk also tallied his first assist of the season on the Nelson goal.

The 3rd period started out similar to the first two periods for the Sabres as Tyson Jost scored on the power play from Tyson Barrie and Mikko Rantanen. Four minutes later, Gabriel Bourque scored his third goal in the last four games to push the Avs lead to three.

The Sabres started their comeback attempt as Ryan O’Reilly notched his third point of the night and 17th goal of the year as he scored on a 5-on-3 power play from Kyle Okposo and Ristolainen to cut the lead to two with a little less than seven minutes left in the game.

With 3:15 left in the game, Lehner was pulled to get an extra man on the ice and shortly after Evander Kane slammed home his 18th goal on the season to bring the Sabres within one with just under than three minutes left to play.

In a last ditch effort, coach Phil Housley pulled Lehner again with 2:20 to go, but the Sabres were unable to score a second goal with the extra man as the Avalanche held on for the 5-4 win.

The Sabres were thoroughly outplayed by the Avalanche in the first two periods, but came on strong in the third even though they came up short. Robin Lehner saved 22 of 27 shots in the loss while Jonathan Bernier stopped 28 of 32 while claiming the win.

The Sabres will be home again on Tuesday as they play host to the Eastern Conference leading Tampa Bay Lightning at 7pm EST.



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