Flames rout Sabres, 5-1


A disappointing year for the Buffalo Sabres may have hit its lowest point yet on Wednesday night, where the Sabres were routed 5-1 by the visiting Calgary Flames.

“It wasn’t what we wanted,” said Ryan O’Reilly post-game. “It was a good lesson for us, what worked yesterday, won’t always work today […] we didn’t have jump […] I have to be a lot better.”

It was evident as early as the opening minutes which team was hungrier for the victory. Calgary, having lost its previous four contests and still hanging around the bubble of the playoff picture, pounced on a Buffalo squad that were utterly lifeless on the ice.

The beginning of the contest was an eerie mirror to Buffalo’s last outing just two nights ago; when the Sabres opened the scoring with two goals in less than four minutes against the Maple Leafs, they gave up two in the first 8:35 to Calgary.

The scoreboard could have painted a much uglier picture. The Sabres were on their heels for the duration of the first period, allowing Calgary a whopping 17 shots while mustering only six of their own in the opening period.

That uglier picture eventually took form in the second period. The Flames scored early and late, adding three to their total in the second period on goals from Mark Giordano, Sean Monahan, and Dougie Hamilton.

Calgary’s third and fourth goals on the evening sent Sabres netminder Chad Johnson skating to the bench, but the change to Robin Lehner did nothing to revitalize a woefully-outclassed Buffalo squad. Lehner’s fiery temper emerged without fail, as he took a penalty for roughing Matthew Tkachuk late in the second period.

Calgary was happy to take full advantage of the goalie-given power play, adding their fifth not a minute later.

“We got what we deserved,” said Chad Johnson after the game. “It was that kind of night, they had some puck luck […] normally there is one of those on a given night, tonight it was kind of three or four.”

While Buffalo’s goaltenders had a night they would likely rather forget, Calgary’s David Rittich had one he’ll always remember. The 25-year-old from the Czech Republic delivered perhaps his best NHL performance yet, almost completely nullifying the Sabres’ offense by stopping 25 of Buffalo’s 26 shots. It was just Rittich’s 17th NHL appearance, and had entered the night on nasty skid, having given up 11 goals in his last two starts.

But only Casey Nelson could solve the rookie netminder, putting up his second goal on the year with a mere 18 seconds left to play in the game.

Calgary’s first period goals came on the sticks of Mark Giordano and Mark Jankowski.

The Sabres won’t have much time to clear out the cobwebs. They’ll fly out of Buffalo tonight and make their way to Ottawa, where they’ll face the Senators for a 7:30 PM EST contest on Thursday evening. Lehner is expected to get the start in net.




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