Coming into the 2019-20 season with six straight opening night losses seemed like a tough streak to break against the Pittsburgh Penguins, especially on the road. The Sabres had only won in Pittsburgh four times since 2010.
But on Thursday night, Ralph Krueger’s hockey team looked like the much more dominant team. This Penguins team isn’t the same as they have been in recent years, but they still have Sidney Crosby and a dangerous offensive group, as well as a strong goaltender in Matt Murray.
Buffalo rolled four lines and saw success from almost all of them. They continued to put pressure on Pittsburgh and generated numerous scoring chances, including three breakaways. Zemgus Girgensons, Kyle Okposo, and Victor Olofsson all had a chance but couldn’t beat Murray.
But it didn’t matter.
Conor Sheary showed up to play against his former team and now has four goals and two assists in six games against Pittsburgh.
Expectation vs reality
BUF's logo is eclipsing "good" and I'd suggest enjoying that while it lasts. pic.twitter.com/Ugypfz8WNg
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) October 4, 2019
That’s a great graphic above and helps show just how well Buffalo played last night.
The biggest problem the Sabres was that their second line did not play well. That line included Jeff Skinner, Marcus Johansson, and Vladimir Sobotka. While some saw decent improvement from Sobotka, the entire line struggled throughout the game and was least effective.
The numbers back up what the eyes have told me on the 53-90-17 line pic.twitter.com/Qr0y4skel6
— Chad DeDominicis (@CMDeDominicis) October 4, 2019
The only other thing I didn’t like about last night’s game was how Rasmus Ristolainen took an unnecessary penalty at the end. Pittsburgh only trailed by two goals with a few minutes left and then had an opportunity of a 6-on-4. I think Buffalo was a little lucky the Penguins didn’t get at least one there.
But overall, it was a very good game for the Sabres and it’ll be interesting to see if they can continue that kind of play moving forward. Winning the first game of the season is something Jack Eichel has never done in his NHL career, so maybe this will help them build on their efforts for game two, instead of playing catchup right from the start.
The Sabres will take on the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night at KeyBank Center. Buffalo will be debuting their white and gold jerseys. The Devils host the Winnipeg Jets tonight and will be on the tail end of a back-to-back set.