Overreactions, 43rd Edition: “It was an important game for us.”

On the verge of a seven-game road trip and two and half weeks away from First Niagara Center, the Sabres desperately needed to end the month’s home schedule on a high note.

It wasn’t very high, but high enough.

Thanks to two first period goals from the team’s fourth line, solid goaltending, and the team’s leading scorer coming through as usual, Buffalo was able to secure a split to the home-and-home with Toronto, as they pulled out a 3-2 win at First Niagara Center.

Matt Ellis opened the scoring at 1:05, banking in a shot from behind the goal line. The rare fortunate bounce was followed up by Gaustad ripping a wrister past Jonas Gustavsson less than three minutes later.

“We haven’t got many of those,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff admitted in his press conference, referring to the team’s bad luck of late.

Buffalo’s two early goals were answered by the Maple Leafs before the end of the first, as they scored two goals in just 2:46 to even the score.

The tie was broken with just over five minutes remaining in the second, as Thomas Vanek threaded a beautiful pass to Jason Pominville at the back door for the All-Star’s 15th of the season. The Leafs defense failed to notice the captain sneak around the goal to the backside of the crease.

“We should’ve had the coverage in front of the net,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said after the game.

Ryan Miller made 24 saves for the win, and allowed two goals or less in consecutive games for the first time since October. Jonas Gustavsson allowed three goals on 25 shots to a team he shutout a few days before.

The game wasn’t without the reemergence of the story of the season, as Brayden McNabb left the game with what could be a concussion. Ruff reported that he did in fact visit the “quiet room” and is out for tomorrow’s game on Long Island.

  • Getting goals from guys like Paul Gaustad and Matt Ellis is the difference between this being a competitive team and an average team. That depth in offense is crucial. The second and third lines didn’t contribute any themselves. Thanks to Gaustad, Ellis and Patrick Kaleta (two assists) chipping in, they got two points.
  • I’ll say there were probably a solid 9-10,000 Leafs fans in the building.
  • Derek Roy came out extremely strong and overall had a pretty solid game. He was doing good things with the puck down low, created a couple chances too.
  • Mike Weber had an extremely rough game. A miscommunication between he and Robyn Regehr led to the first Toronto goal, and he got knocked over and lost the puck in the slot for the second one. He was the Sabres’ only minus player, and was -2 in 19:58 of TOI.
  • Bad break for McNabb, as the rook was having a solid night. Despite leaving early with the injury, he picked up an assist on the Gaustad goal and was +2.
  • For as much energy as Leafs/Sabres games tend to have thanks to the fan interaction, the early buzz was systematically killed throughout the game. As a follower on twitter put it, “I’m literally falling asleep right now.”
  • Ryan Miller putting two solid games together is encouraging as the team heads out on this road trip that could make or break their season. He’s settled in and stopped a lot of the shots he needs to.
  • That high-sticking penalty on Marc-Andre Gragnani was atrocious. Only two penalties against the Leafs were tangible: delay of game (puck over glass) and too many men. Referees weren’t making judgement calls against them. Same thing happened Tuesday.
  • On Gragnani, he played just 7:51 and took two minor penalties. This “five defenseman” thing with Gragnani only getting spot shifts and powerplay time is questionable. Sure, they’re kind of hand-tied with Ehrhoff and Sekera out, but it’s not good to be riding the same five guys every night.
  • You know what’s the best? Watching Toronto lose. You know what’s better? Watching Leafs fans watch their team lose.
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Posted on January 14, 2012, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the Leafs penalty situation. They drop down to worst PK in the league and all of a sudden don’t get any penalties called against them – I suppose they could just not be taking any penalties, or maybe the league sent the word down to eat the whistles a little bit.

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