The Sabres quickly find themselves in a 0-2 hole just a few days after the NHL regular season has started.
Buffalo held tight and played another close game against the Washington Capitals on Friday night at KeyBank Center, but fell short once again, 2-1.
|2||1:34||Jakub Vrana (2)||Tom Wilson (1)||---|
|3||0:31||Rasmus Ristolainen (1)||Taylor Hall (2)||Jack Eichel (3)|
|3||7:47||Tom Wilson (1)||Nicklas Backstrom (2)||---|
It’s a very disappointing start for a team that had higher expectations, at least from the offensive side of things.
Rasmus Ristolainen had the only Buffalo goal in this one, with a little help from a redirection. Taylor Hall and Jack Eichel assisted on this one:
— Buffalo Hockey moments (@SabresPlays) January 16, 2021
In both games, Buffalo had their opportunities, but their overall effort was much better in the latter. Facing a goaltender who was making his NHL debut, the idea of getting shots to the net early and often seemed evident, but Vitek Vanecek held his ground and only allowed the one goal on 31 shots.
Krueger: "Vanecek plays the game of his life tonight….I thought we were bringing guys to the net…we created opportunity…" #Sabres
— Brian Koziol (@BrianWGR) January 16, 2021
“We beat them in every category except scoring. It was excellent to see the execution but painful to see the final result.” – Ralph Krueger
The Sabres had moments in the game where they applied heavy pressure in the offensive zone, extending shifts and keeping the Capitals pinned in their own end, and a couple of these were at even strength.
It was with the man advantage where the Sabres were actually worse. They could barely get in the zone and get set up, and any shot they could muster seemingly went wide and skittered all the way around the boards and back down the ice.
Still, these 2 games were in reach, and Buffalo was able to play with the Caps.
The Sabres have given up 9 total high danger chances in 2 games (that’s excellent) and 8 goals.
— Kevin (@ntrider825) January 16, 2021
Linus Ullmark played well in his season debut, allowing two goals on 19 shots.
Jeff Skinner has started the season in the bottom six of the lineup but looked better, and it’ll be interesting to see if/when Krueger bumps him back up to the 1st or 2nd line at some point. Skinner played 14 and a half minutes last night.
Eric Staal, who was a game-time decision, played the whole game and logged over 17 minutes. That’s a great sign after it looked like the hit he took the night before could have him miss some time.
These two teams will meet twice more again next week. Before then, the Sabres have a pair of road games to take on the Philadelphia Flyers. With back-to-back games early next week, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Hutton and Ullmark get one start each for those.