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Overreactions: Late strike in 3rd, quick strike in OT push Enroth to win

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Wednesday night at First Niagara Center had loss written all over it. Coming into a game against Boston (who’s good), on the second night of a back-to-back against a rested team, with Jhonas Enroth in goal (who hadn’t won since October), the obvious was pointing to a loss.

And it was pretty damn close to being one. But that is why they play the game.

Matt Moulson’s tying goal with 53 seconds to go sent the game to overtime and Matt D’Agostini‘s fantastic finish 22 seconds into the extra session gave the Sabres their second win in as many nights, this time taking down the Boston Bruins with a 5-4 overtime win.

D’Agostini ended the game early into overtime by beating Boston goon Zdeno Chara to a loose puck in the Boston zone. D’Agostini went in on Bruins goaltender Chad Johnson, deked to the backhand and tucked it past him for the winner.

“I think he just thought he had time to go back and retrieve the puck,” D’Agostini said. “I kind of just snuck up behind him. I heard their bench screaming. I tried a little sneak attack on him in there, so it was good that I got by him and snuck it through the pad.”

Buffalo tied the game in a scramble around the net in the final minute. Likely goner Matt Moulson poked home his 16th of the year to send the game past regulation.

The Sabres also got goals from Zemgus Girgensons, Brian Flynn and Tyler Myers in just their 11th home win of the season.

Enroth, winning his first game since October 25th, made 29 saves.

  • Buffalo, with the win, is five points behind 29th place Edmonton with a game in hand. It’s good to be in a place where winning can be fun. Because winning should be fun.
  • Don’t know what it is about playing Boston, but Brian Flynn always seems to be flying when they do. Of course he’s a Massachusetts boy, so it does make some sense. His pass on the Girgensons goal was phenomenal. Deserved first star.
  • Really happy for Jhonas Enroth. Dude needed that win. Great way to get it, too. Needed a confidence boost. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions: Sabres now unstoppable, score goals and win second in a row

458006505_slideIt can get a bit redundant writing about losses ad nauseum. I mean, we know what the deal is this season, but still. And then you have a game like this, and you realize you forgot how much more fun winning is.

And the Sabres, for the second game in a row, did just that.

With the despised Boston Bruins in town, Buffalo rebounded from a 2-1 second period deficit with a 4-2 victory at First Niagara Center.

Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers both scored their third of the season in a 1:20 span in the final minutes of regulation to provide the margin of victory. Stafford, who has struggled offensively this season, finally got one to go in after missing a few solid chances early on.

“I had to stick with it. Sooner or later one was going to have to go in,” said Stafford.

Buffalo also got goals from Brian Flynn and Marcus Foligno. Flynn was the first star of the game, adding an assist as he finished +3. Foligno also finished with two points, assisting on Myers’ insurance goal.

Ryan Miller got the win in goal, as he stopped 34 of 36 shots. Brad Marchand had both goals for the Bruins.

The teams finish their home-and-home set Saturday night in Boston.

  • So happy for Drew Stafford. He gets a lot of shit from fans and media (merited on results), but you can’t question his effort. It’s bound to come eventually. Is “progression to the mean” a thing? Because he’d be due for that.
  • Brian Flynn is awesome.
  • Said it during the game, but I’ve frequently mentioned how I want “Bridge Burning” by Foo Fighters to be used for the team’s intro video. They played it during the game, right after Mike Weber went after Milan Lucic. The next faceoff was at center ice after Flynn scored. Not saying, just saying. Read the rest of this entry

Delayed Overreactions: Bruins beat Sabres, and there’s that John Scott thing

185680683_slideLeading up to the national television broadcast on NBCSN, there was an emphasis on hyping up the Bruins-Sabres rivalry. Lots of hype. Lots of clips of Milan Lucic running over Ryan Miller. And for much of the game, it seemed a bit misguided.

And then John Scott skated through the neutral zone and caught an oblivious Loui Eriksson with a hit and then we were back to where we started. Boston won the game, beating the Sabres 5-2, but that was hardly the big story. It was the hit.

Eriksson would leave the game (and stay in Buffalo overnight with concussion-like symptoms) and Scott would get jumped by Boston’s Adam McQuaid for the only fight of “Rivalry Night.” It was an ugly incident that marred the game, which dropped the Sabres to 1-9-1 on the season.

Cody Hodgson and Nikita Zadorov scored for Buffalo, who got 29 saves out of Ryan Miller.

Boston’s Milan Lucic and Torey Krug each scored twice, while Dougie Hamilton registered the game winning goal for the Bruins.

  • The hit was dirty and everyone knew that when it happened. You don’t need video review, it passed the eye test. But there’s no way there’s as much furor over it if it wasn’t a plug like John Scott throwing it or if it wasn’t a star player like Eriksson getting knocked out. He deserves supplemental discipline, but the deck is certainly stacked against Scott. Not that we should be upset that a guy who can’t score is out of the lineup.
  • Funny that the Bruins get commended for not going after a Sabres player for retribution when after the Lucic-Miller thing, it was the Sabres getting torn apart for not going after the Bruins.
  • This blog and this blogger complains frequently about game presentation being out of touch, and if it wasn’t obvious before, playing that horrible, stupid “Big Bad John” song after the hit should make it obvious to everyone else. The organization should be absolutely embarrassed that they employ people that would do that. No concept of what’s actually going on. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 15/48 Edition: Well, how about that.

20130215 millerHard to say anyone had reason to expect much out of the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.

They’ve been performing at levels that can be described somewhere between “garbage” and “R. Kelly’s Doo Doo Butter” since they had their hallmark-at-the-time win over their opponent on the night, the Boston Bruins. And Boston is quite good, despite a record against the Sabres that says otherwise.

But there go the Sabres, walking away with a 4-2 victory against the team with the second best record in the conference.

Drew Stafford gave Buffalo an early lead with his first goal of the season. That lead would disappear as Boston climbed out to a 2-1 advantage mere minutes into the second period. But thanks to some fantastic goaltending, they never extended it. Ryan Miller was sensational when he had to be, keeping the Sabres in it when they probably shouldn’t have been. He made 30 saves and got the help from the posts as well to keep Boston from pulling away.

“He’s the backbone of this team,” said Stafford. “It’s up to us to put the puck in the net and win some games for him.”

Buffalo would steal the game in the third period with goals from Tyler Myers, Christian Ehrhoff and Cody Hodgson. Boston registered just three shots on goal in the final 20 minutes.

“As much as they outplayed us in the first couple periods, we came out and played our game and turned the game around,” said Ehrhoff.

  • Congrats to Boston’s Dougie Hamilton on his first NHL goal. Wish the Sabres would’ve shown some respect and announced that with the goal like they would if it was a Buffalo rookie. It’s a milestone achievement, it’d be a nice acknowledgement. The kid played junior hockey in what you consider your market, people would’ve appreciated it.
  • Steve Ott ended up with 11 hits, the most since Paul Gaustad had 10 in the Winter Classic over five years ago. Honestly, I didn’t expect to see that number that high. He was definitely throwing the body around, but that’s crazy. Boston’s Milan Lucic had a physical game and he finished with 5. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 7/48 Edition: Thomas Vanek is good at hockey

Sabres win, 7-4. I got nothing else.

 

Well, maybe… Read the rest of this entry

The day of reckoning is upon us

As soon as the schedule came out, you looked for it. You looked for the opener, and it was home. Then you looked to see when the first game against Boston was.

Tonight, the demons await.

Ever since Milan Lucic brazenly ran over Ryan Miller in TD Garden, the cloud hanging over the franchise still has yet to dissipate. It’s not just they haven’t won there since that 6-2 loss, including two late season losses by scores of 3-1 and 4-3 that surely could’ve improved the Sabres’ playoff chances. It’s not just that they’re in the midst of a four game losing skid in a shortened season right now.

It’s that this franchise had all their faults exposed in one night and have yet to prove that they’re past it.

That game showed a lack of strength amongst the Sabres, not only to stand up for each other, but to avoid being rattled by it. Ryan Miller wasn’t the same for months. The skid the team went on was a major factor towards another year outside the top eight in the East.

And most notably, the changes to the roster since have all been with that game in mind.

It wasn’t long until they decided it was time for alleged-Lucic-in-waiting prospect Zack Kassian to fill that role in the NHL. They brought him up and saw what few had been trying to point out all along, that he wasn’t that guy. And then Marcus Foligno came up and filled the role better, so Kassian was dealt while his stock was still high.

And they traded Paul Gaustad, who was supposed to be the leader on the ice that night, but stood by idly by. He was gone at the deadline. It was clear that whatever toughness the Sabres thought they had, wasn’t enough. Or at least wasn’t the kind they needed.

It continued over the summer, with Steve Ott being acquired for talented center Derek Roy, and the “enforcer” John Scott being signed as a UFA.

There was no skirting around what this was supposed to be. This was supposed to make the team a group that didn’t allow things like the Lucic hit from ever happening.

So far, that hasn’t worked out well. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 61st Edition: So much for selling…

Hard to believe, but there’s no firesale in Buffalo this weekend.

Left for dead not long ago, the Sabres won’t go away. Somehow, they’re getting themselves back into the playoff picture, and the wins keep finding their way to Buffalo.

Facing the defending Cup champs and Northeast Division leading Boston Bruins at First Niagara Center on Friday night, both teams played well enough not to lose. Since the game has to be decided eventually, the shootout handed the Sabres two points and a 2-1 victory.

Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy scored in the shootout, and Ryan Miller only allowed one goal after stopping 35 of 36 shots in the game.

Andrej Sekera gave the Sabres their only lead of the night with just over five minutes remaining in the second period. Boston came out gunning in the third, outshooting the Sabres 15-5 and tying the game on a powerplay goal by Zdeno Chara.

“I think we got on our heels a little bit in the third,” said Lindy Ruff after the game.

Buffalo held on, and even killed a late Thomas Vanek penalty that ran into overtime without surrendering the deciding goal.

The Sabres now move to 27-27-7 on the season, good enough for 11th in the Eastern Conference and just five points behind 8th place Florida.

The Panthers sit at 66 points, one back of Southeast Division leader Winnipeg with four games in hand. For all intents and purposes, Buffalo is chasing the Jets, who at 63 games played, hold a tenuous spot in the playoff picture.

  • Having played three incredibly intense games so far this season, these teams played one absolute stinker tonight. Animosity was limited. Each team doled out only 20 hits through 65 minutes of action. Very few scrums. It was an incredibly lackluster game to watch considering the previous efforts.
  • Ryan Miller has been the backbone of the Sabres’ resurgence. In his last 13 outings, he’s allowed more than two goals just four times. He is 8-2-2 in that stretch. His save percentage is up to .910 on the season.
  • Good for Andrej Sekera to get rewarded for his great play with a goal. It was a nice play by Ennis to set it up, and Sekera filled in a open lane to perfection. Guy has been a rock lately, even in limited ice time.
  • Liked Corey Tropp getting the recall, and even with taking two penalties, he brought a good game. The kid plays with energy, physicality, and he actually has hands. I’m ready to put him on the fourth line next year. Read the rest of this entry

3MI Roadtrip Recap: University of Sabres Doubleheader

In place of a traditional “Overreactions” post, which would be extremely tardy, this is 3MI Roadtrip Recap. A mix of what the postgame blogs usually look like and a look into the trip. Hope you like it. If you don’t, feel free to move to the Congo.)

Preamble

Not often that you get opportunities to see your team play twice in one day. Well, sort of.

Couple weeks ago a buddy of mine alerted me that the Rochester Americans were playing a weekday morning game in Toronto. He suggested we go for the 11am start. Oh, and the Sabres were hosting the Bruins the same night. What are the odds? Luckily, getting a day off work was feasible, and it worked out great. Easy drive Sabres game didn’t start until 7:30. Plenty of time.

So we hit the road early and headed up the QEW to Toronto to see the Sabres’ minor-league affiliate play the Leafs affiliate to start one hell of a day.

Rochester Americans @ Toronto Marlies
Viewed at: Ricoh Coliseum, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Amerks have had their struggles with injuries. With Joe Finley out with a lower body injury, facing a Toronto team they’ve had tough games against this season, things didn’t get much better.

Getting an early start in front of thousands of school kids, the Rochester Americans lost 4-3 to the Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum.

Rookie Zack Kassian scored twice for Rochester, who now sits 9th in the AHL’s Western Conference.

Max Legault scored the other goal for the Amerks. David Leggio made 21 saves in the loss.

Rochester struggled offensively for much of the game, generating just ten shots through two periods. Kassian’s second goal came with under four seconds left.

  • Kassian looked like the Kassian we know. Wasn’t throwing his weight around, but strong physically and good around the net. He’s not going to be the player everyone wants him to be. He’ll be good though.
  • Made an effort to watch Dennis Persson as much as I could. Seems like he’s slowly becoming a bit steadier. His selection was always assumed to be under the intention that he’d grow into a Henrik Tallinder-type, and I can see it. Tallinder took his sweet time developing. Persson is progressing slowly as well. Not ready to say “bust” yet. He was -2 on Wednesday.
  • If you’re into roadtrips, I highly recommend heading up to Ricoh for a game. Beautiful little AHL arena. Very intimate environment.
  • Travis Turnbull is a guy that can be a mainstay on the Amerks for a few years. A joy to watch. Plays with a lot of intensity and spunk. Had a nice scrap with Toronto’s Kelsey Wilson. Read the rest of this entry

Delayed Overreactions, 21st Edition: Sabres make their point against Bruins

The goal in each game is to win. Those two points are what the teams play for.

On Wednesday night, the Buffalo Sabres got one point, but still walked away with somewhat of a victory.

With the hockey world watching to see how the Sabres would respond in their first matchup with the Boston Bruins after the Milan Lucic hit on the still-sidelined Ryan Miller, the team succeeded in showing their mettle, albeit losing in a shootout by a score of 4-3.

Paul Gaustad got the business out of the way early, challenging Lucic in an early scrap, despite it happening 11 days after many argue it should have. Buffalo used the energy to jump out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Christian Ehrhoff and Thomas Vanek.

“It was an unfortunate incident in Boston, and I give credit to Milan for fighting,” Gaustad said. “It’s something where guys don’t have to, and he did. I wanted to step up after I thought I could have done more in the (earlier) Boston game.”

Boston climbed back within one early in the second, only to be answered by T.J. Brennan’s first NHL goal in his first NHL game. The Bruins continued to press, and tied the game at three early in the third on a powerplay goal by Zdeno Chara.

It went to a shootout, where Tim Thomas stopped all five Sabres shooters and Benoit Pouliot ended it after Jhonas Enroth had stopped the four previous Bruins to shoot.

Enroth finished with 36 saves on the night.

Sure, they didn’t win the game, but arguably, they won some respect.

  • A very nice debut for T.J. Brennan. He didn’t get a regular shift early on, as Lindy surely wanted to ease him into such an intense atmosphere. He converted the chance he got, and played a very simple game. A great step forward for a kid who is likely gonna stick around a while.
  • By the way, kudos to the game presentation for stepping up and doing a new intro. The environment was much better, and the crowd responded. Unfortunately, they still don’t have it quite right, as the heavy start faded after the first period and the crowd was pretty lifeless in the second and thirds. The music is so crucial, and you can tell what an effect playing more appropriate music. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t have to beat people over the head with “go run through that brick wall” music the whole night.
  • Not having Brad Boyes available for the shootout may have been the difference. Jhonas Enroth made the saves he needed to, but the skaters need to score. Unfortunate that they failed to take advantage of the situation.
  • I’ve never seen a player jump into hits more than Brad Marchand did Wednesday night. Even when trying to lay out Nathan Gerbe, who’s even smaller than he is, Marchand feels the need to leave his feet. Total scumbag. Read the rest of this entry

Ryan Miller out indefinitely with concussion

The injury that knocked Ryan Miller out of Saturday night’s loss to Boston seems to be more than a sore neck.

As the Buffalo News reports, Miller is out for the forseeable future with a concussion.

The illegal hit by Boston’s Milan Lucic that caused the injury will be reviewed by the league, as Lucic has a hearing scheduled with Brendan Shanahan at 1 pm on Monday afternoon.

“If this hit and other types of hits like this are not suspended, we are opening up the possibility of losing goaltenders to injury. And not just injury, but concussion,” Regier said. “… When I look at the position of goaltending, in a lot of ways it’s not unlike quarterback in football. I feel very strongly the protection has to be provided and players committing these types of action should be punished.”

The Sabres have recalled Drew MacIntyre from Rochester to backup Jhonas Enroth. MacIntyre is 3-4-1 on the season with the Amerks, and he will surely look to take advantage of the opportunity.

As the goaltending debate has raged over the last few weeks, unfortunately we’re going to get an extended look at Enroth. The undefeated rookie will start against Montreal on Monday night, and will be the horse for the time being. With four games in the next six days, it’s entirely possible MacIntyre may get a start Friday night in Carolina.

The story now will be how Enroth responds. The young Swede who is 12-0-1 in his last 13 decisions will get another chance to be the guy. His stellar play at the end of last season earned Buffalo a playoff spot, and has done nothing but perform at the highest level this season. Another extended stretch of good play with Miller on the sidelines may start pushing the team to reevaluate the future plans the team has in goal.

The Sabres as a group were unhappy with the way they responded to the hit Saturday night, so it’s a good bet that they’re going to come out and play with passion in Montreal. A loss on the heels of the massacre in Boston could be devastating to the team’s self-confidence.

Faceoff is at 7:00 Monday night.

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