Overreactions, 67th Edition: On to the next one

As game time approached Wednesday night at First Niagara Center, the signs of a “trap game” started popping up. Whether it was Lindy Ruff sticking Ryan Miller in net again, the dreaded “first game back after a road trip” game, a late scratch of Andrej Sekera due to illness… you could find your reasons.

Buffalo responded with an effort that got them the result they needed.

Before a surprisingly lively crowd, the Sabres came home and in the end, took care of business, knocking off the Carolina Hurricanes with a 3-2 overtime victory on the strength of captain Jason Pominville’s powerplay goal 56 seconds into the fourth period.

After falling into an early hole and facing a one goal deficit after one, the Sabres had grabbed a 2-1 lead just 1:02 into the second on goals by Tyler Myers and Thomas Vanek. Carolina would later tie it up and the teams remained deadlocked after 60 minutes until the American hero, Pominville, ended it.

Ryan Miller made 22 saves for Buffalo, moving to 7-1-2 in his last 10 starts.

The Sabres now sit 10th place in the Eastern Conference at 70 points, just two behind 8th place Winnipeg with 15 games to go.

  • Thomas Vanek’s ice time in his four-game streak without a point: 17:41, 17:45, 12:09, 16:20. Tonight: 19:47, two points. Likely due to the above-the-norm amount of powerplays, but noticeable.
  • Big ups to Carolina’s Jussi Jokinen for taking three, yes, three minor penalties tonight. The way they’re calling games, penalties don’t get called often. Takes a supreme effort to pull that off.
  • Alex Sulzer had a pretty solid game as a late replacement for the apparently sick Andrej Sekera. Three blocked shots, two shots on goal, and a snipe off the pipe that could’ve broken the tie in the second period. Looked good in his home debut.
  • There was a play in the first period, with the Vanek-Roy-Pominville on the ice and Myers and Leopold on the point that really bugged the hell out of me. With the unit generating good pressure, keeping Carolina hemmed into their own zone, the puck came back to Myers at the point. With Pominville on the wall about twenty feet away, Vanek and Roy in front of the net, and Leopold near the high slot, Myers, instead of the easy play to Pominville to keep possession or the shot to try to catch Vanek in front, hammered the puck around the boards. Roy raced to the wall and couldn’t stop it and Leopold wasn’t able to keep it in. A completely unnecessary, and arguably thoughtless, bad play by Myers killed a good offensive possession. One of the things Myers needs to correct to be that #1 defenseman. He’s gotta make the smart play that’s gonna keep that play going, not make the mistake that ends it.
  • Throughout the game, it seemed like Carolina was making an effort to hit Pominville whenever they got a chance. Sure, teams should always finish their checks, but I don’t remember noticing opponents making an effort to hit Pominville like that before.
  • Nathan Gerbe got pulled down as he tried breaking in on goal midway through the first period and fans at the rink were angry that there was not a penalty shot called. While the penalty definitely interfered with the scoring opportunity, it wasn’t from behind, Gerbe didn’t have a step on the defense. It was a good, worthy call.
  • Tonight’s two-man disadvantage in the third period was the first the team was given since they traded Paul Gaustad. Gaustad was the go-to guy in those situations, but without him, the Sabres don’t have an obvious, default guy to fill in. Jason Pominville began the kill, taking the draw, with Patrick Kaleta filling in for him as the lone forward later on. That’s one place they got weaker.
  • Christian Ehrhoff had a very good game, and picked up assists on the Vanek and Pominville’s powerplay goals. A beast in 24:31 of action. Wonder if the heavy work tonight will influence his ice time tomorrow in Boston.
  • The crowd was much livelier than normal at the arena. Not sure if it’s the fact they recognized it was a big game or being excited for Cody Hodgson’s debut or being motivated by Winnipeg’s fans or the weather. Tonight was the kind of atmosphere you’d want for a Wednesday night game against Carolina. It’s now about finding a way to make the rest of the night’s better.
  • It’s nice to look at a scoresheet and not see Eric Staal’s name.
  • Buffalo threw 42 shots on goal, an unusually high number, but it was good to test Cam Ward that often after he stopped 46 shots the night before. It worked out in the end.

Next up: Boston, Thursday night, 7:00. On to the next one.

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Posted on March 7, 2012, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. “Christian Ehrhoff had a very good game, and picked up assists on the Vanek and Pominville’s powerplay goals. A beast in 24:31 of action. Wonder if the heavy work tonight will influence his ice time tomorrow in Boston.”

    Ruff leaned on Ehrhoff pretty heavily (24:31, 23:13, 21:10 & 22:29) when Regehr got injured (and missed time), and until Regehr is fully fit we’ll probably see more of that.

  2. “Buffalo threw 42 shots on goal, an unusually high number, but it was good to test Cam Ward that often after he stopped 46 shots the night before. It worked out in the end.”

    That was apart from the 21 shots that missed the target too (plus two off the pipes).. you could tell the Canes had played an OT game the previous night.

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