For once, as this has been a rare occasion this 2014-2015 season, you can look at a game that the Sabres won and say to yourself, “They deserved the win.” Tonight was just one of those nights.
Nikita Zadorov‘s goal 29 seconds into overtime was the gamebreaker, as the Sabres defeated Florida, 4-3.
“I probably never had that big a goal in my life,” said Zadorov. “It’s a great feeling and I’m going to try to do it again.”
The young defenseman, fresh off a debate about whether or not he’ll be allowed to go play for Russia in the upcoming IIHF World Junior Championships in Toronto and Montreal, received a cross-ice pass from Tyler Ennis and ripped the winner past Panthers goaltender Al Montoya.
Cody Hodgson, Marcus Foligno and Brian Gionta also scored for Buffalo, which has now unreasonably won nine of their last 12.
Hodgson, who was stuck in the press box last game due to his lack of production, broke things open just 2:06 into the game, taking a pass from Patrick Kaleta and ripping it past Montoya.
“He got exactly where goal-scorers have got to get to,” said Sabres coach Ted Nolan.
Sean Bergenheim, Jimmy Hayes and Jussi Jokinen scored for Florida, who turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead before Gionta’s equalizer. Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth stopped 25 of 28 shots for the win.
Buffalo closes their four game homestand Monday against Ottawa.
- This was just the third time this season that the Sabres outshot their opponent. Buffalo finished with 32 shots on goal, just ahead of Florida’s 28. They are 3-0-0 when outshooting their opponent.
- Seriously, just three times in 30 games. That’s ridiculously terrible.
- Nikita Zadorov is a star and he’s rapidly moving up the list of “Easiest guys to root for.” Kid is very charismatic and more importantly he’s very good at playing hockey. Part of the Sabres’ surge is due to the fact he’s been getting minutes.
- That Tyler Myers breakout pass to Brian Gionta’s tying goal was fantastic and the finish was beautiful. That’s a hell of hockey play. Read the rest of this entry
Coming off a win on Tuesday night in Carolina, it’d be expected that the Sabres would see the opportunity to keep it going and come out strong. That, they did not.
The visiting Florida Panthers jumped on the Sabres early, peppering goaltender Jhonas Enroth with shots, outshooting the home team 16-3 in the opening period. Despite Enroth’s valiant effort, Buffalo fell 1-0 on a second period goal by Panthers forward Sean Bergenheim.
“It’s frustrating,” said Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons. “You feel bad for the goalie.”
Buffalo would turn it on over the final forty minutes, but couldn’t crack Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, who registered his third consecutive shutout against the Sabres. Luongo hasn’t allowed a goal against Buffalo in 178:49, dating back to then-Sabre/now-Panther Brad Boyes’ (who had an assist tonight, of course) tally on March 3, 2012.
It was a very forgettable outing for Buffalo, who looked at times incompetent in front of the announced crowd of 17,364.
“We’re not happy,” said coach Ted Nolan after the game. “No one’s gonna help us get out of this except ourselves.”
The Sabres return to action Saturday, as division rival Boston comes to town for the first matchup between the teams this season.
Hey, we’ve got 77 more games of this. Fasten your seat belts.
- Tonight was the first chance I’ve had to see Panthers rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad play in the NHL, and he might have been the best defenseman on the ice for either team. Very poised, made great decisions with the puck… this kid is going to be a stud. I knew it when I saw him play with Barrie against the Niagara IceDogs last year, and less than a year later, he’s in the NHL to stay. Can’t feel bad about missing out because the Sabres never had a chance to pass on him. But he’s gonna be good.
- Nicolas Deslauriers is Marcus Foligno without the hands or bloodlines.
- At this point, it’s just a matter of playing out the nine games he gets without counting a year off his contract before Sam Reinhart goes back to Kootenay. Team low 7:09 of ice time. He’s just a body here. There’s zero reason Brian Flynn can’t be in the lineup doing what Reinhart does while the kid gets minutes in juniors. Read the rest of this entry
If anyone’s been seriously concerned about “the tank” lately, they’ve been seeing some issues. The Sabres, heading into Tuesday night, had picked up points in five of their last six (2-1-3), and more impressively in nine of their last ten (6-1-3) at First Niagara Center.
So with a strong run putting them on the brink of passing 29th place Edmonton, for at least one night, the heroic march to the 5th overall pick was stalled, this time by their historic Atlantic Division rival, the Florida Panthers. Despite two early goals by Drew Stafford that put the Sabres in front, a few deflections and an inability to finish late chances left Buffalo on the losing end of a 4-3 decision.
Ryan Miller struggled on his way to finishing with just 18 saves, getting beat three times in the first period on deflected shots. Florida scored twice in 52 seconds in the final minutes of the period, and the 3-2 lead would be a sustained advantage.
Florida’s Nick Bjugstad widened the gap with a second period snipe to make it 4-2, and Tim Thomas would weather the storm in the Panthers net over the final 20 minutes. Thomas stopped 15 of 16 Buffalo shots in the third period to hang on for the win.
Steve Ott would score his 100th career goal on the powerplay 8:36 into the final period, but the Sabres failed to tie it and took the loss in regulation.
- Tyler Myers got a lot of love after the last game (arguably more than merited) and he followed it up with a relative dud, which the stats back up. He activated offensively a few times early, but overall, he was unimpressive in his own zone. We need to have a real conversation about this guy.
- This space does not hesitate to rip on game presentation, but they’ve done an excellent job recognizing milestones over the PA. They even have graphics ready. It was good to see them make a big deal out of Ott’s 100th NHL goal. Now if they could only put the goal information in writing on the scoreboard, we’d be all set there.
- By the way, the music was a mess. Absolutely way too relaxed and chill for a game as close as that. Can’t lull the crowd to sleep like that.
- The boxscore isn’t kind to Miller, but hard to blame him much on the first period goals. Yes, as he said after the game, his positioning could’ve been better, but still, deflections. He’s the kind of guy who goes out of his way to take responsibility for things, which is incredibly admirable. But other than the Bjugstad snipe (which was gorgeous) he’s taking the heat a little more than he needs to. Read the rest of this entry
There had been
discussion arguments on twitter about the roster moves the Sabres would have to make before Saturday afternoon’s game against Ottawa. Forwards Ville Leino and Tyler Ennis were ready to come back from injury, and the Sabres needed to make room for them in the 23.
First thing they did was send Mikhail Grigorenko back to Quebec, his junior team in the QMJHL. Then, Darcy Regier got his trade shoes on.
Defenseman T.J. Brennan, who’s struggled to get in the lineup all season, was dealt to the Florida Panthers in exchange for New Jersey’s 5th round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Brennan, 23, had played in just 10 games with the Sabres this season, registering a goal in a loss to Carolina on March 5. He registered just one goal in 11 NHL games last season well, when he scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game against Boston on Thanksgiving Eve 2011.
The offensive production expected of him never consistently materialized at the NHL level. He had been tearing it up in the AHL, with 14 goals and 35 points in 36 games this season before the lockout ended and he was forced to be recalled to the NHL due to his contract. While other players were safely waived and reassigned, Brennan, who was the Amerks’ leading scorer and one of the top scoring defenseman in the AHL, had no chance of clearing despite not being able to crack the top six in Buffalo.
In the end, Regier decided it was time to cut the cord and either waive or trade him, and they got a draft pick in return instead of letting him go for free. Read the rest of this entry
Yeah, I know. Lame and easy. But an afternoon that could’ve ended pleasantly in Buffalo will now only create more headaches. The Sabres jumped out to a 3-1 second period lead en route to a 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers.
“We played stupid I guess,” said superhuman star winger Thomas Vanek. “We had some great chances, didn’t even hit the net on some of them. We need to be smarter.”
Vanek, the NHL’s leading scorer, extended his lead with a goal and two assists, giving him 19 points in eight games.
Cody Hodgson also tallied a goal and two assists, and Alexander Sulzer added his second goal in three games for Buffalo. But the story was the missed opportunities, not only to score, but to prevent goals. Tyler Ennis had a breakaway in the second period which he did not convert. Marcus Foligno, Mikhail Grigorenko, Jochen Hecht, and Drew Stafford all had notable scoring opportunities which were not finished.
Shawn Matthias, George Parros, Peter Mueller and former Sabre Brian Campbell scored for Florida, who won their first road game of the year.
The burden of Buffalo’s third game in four nights appeared to take it’s toll in the end, and the Sabres have just a one day break before they head to Ottawa on Tuesday.
“I thought our energy was, compared to yesterday, was great for the first 40 minutes,” said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff in his post game press conference. “We gotta do some things different… that’s obvious.”
“It just got away from us,” said Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, who stopped 29 shots.
- The George Parros goal was the epitome of a trainwreck for Buffalo. Alexander Sulzer makes a terrible play at the point to turn the puck over. Sulzer and the nearby Marcus Foligno get beat up the ice to create the rush. Christian Ehrhoff aimlessly slides through the slot to stop the play. Tyler Ennis glides up behind Parros as he beats Miller with a weak shot. In reality, that was the first nail in the coffin. The team was mailing it in from that point on.
- Marcus Foligno played a career-high 21:46, more than all but Christian Ehrhoff and Jordan Leopold. So, yeah… about that. What?
- Tyler Myers has been getting rightfully killed for his awful play, and he was an orange paint job away from being an actual pylon on the tying goal. But I guess it wasn’t all bad, because he ended up even. He was on the ice for the tying and winning goals against. It could be worse! Read the rest of this entry
Not even snow in late April could stop the ninth version of “The Instigator Podcast” featuring Chris Ostrander of Two In the Box and myself.
This week we discuss the NHL playoffs, first round surprises, how fun it is to watch Vancouver lose, southern market success and another game of Plus/Minus.
There are plenty of games throughout the year where the Sabres might come out and play a strong game, or it might be a fun game to watch, but at the end of the night, they just can’t get it done.
Scratch that, reverse it.
In one of the more tedious stretches of 60 minutes we’ll see this season, the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers couldn’t determine a winner. Thankfully, it didn’t last much longer than that.
Jason Pominville‘s breakaway goal 2:19 into overtime gave the Sabres their second home win in the last four weeks as they defeated Florida 2-1.
“It wasn’t a pretty one, but we got it done against a team that was going really well,” Pominville said. “We talked about trying not to hand them opportunities by giving pucks away, and we were better with the puck. You want to generate more, but at the same time I thought we stuck with it.”
Ryan Miller made 22 saves for Buffalo, who also got a goal from Derek Roy in the first period.
The two points were surely worth a game that the NHL marketing department would probably love to burn the tape of. The teams combined for nine shots in the third period.
Buffalo, despite the win, took a couple losses on the night. Jochen Hecht got hurt blocking a shot in the third, while rookie Corey Tropp should miss some time after being rocked by Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov in the first period.
But still, a win’s a win.
- Paul Szczechura has been really good in each game he’s played for the Sabres. Showing to be a phenomenal depth signing this offseason. That pass to Pominville? Szczweet.
- Speaking of sweet, the effort all around on Buffalo’s first goal was beautiful. Brayden McNabb with the great effort to get the puck out. Tyler Ennis with the nice play to push it up ice, and Drew Stafford threading a perfect pass to Derek Roy, who made no mistake. Pretty.
- Jordan Leopold’s return to the lineup was noticeably good for the defense. Leo had an assist on the winner and was solid in 20 minutes of ice time. Sabres should get a big boost if he keeps up his play from before the injury.
- Ryan Miller had a really good night. Can’t fault him on a five-on-three. Made the saves he needed to. Read the rest of this entry
After Jason Pominville’s powerplay goal gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead with just over seven minutes remaining, of all things, a Panthers penalty turned the tide and Florida scored two late goals to sneak away with two points in a 3-2 final.
It was Florida’s Marco Sturm earning a five minute major by boarding Jordan Leopold with 6:45 remaining that elicited a retaliatory minor by Drew Stafford. With the teams skating four-on-four, Nathan Gerbe was called for tripping and obtained an extra minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Sabres killed off the brief four-on-three advantage, but Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann tied the game with both teams a man short.
Just seconds after the major penalty expired, Jason Garrison ripped a shot past Ryan Miller with 1:43 remaining in regulation to give Florida the win.
When asked about Gerbe’s extra minor penalty, Lindy Ruff put it simple.
“Unacceptable,” the coach said in his postgame press conference.
Ryan Miller finished with 33 saves after being peppered by 31 shots in the final two periods. Jose Theodore made 24 saves to get the win.
“We have to wake up and do what it takes to play a system in this league,” Miller said. “You’re not going to get away with making cute plays, you’re not going to be able to carry the puck in…you’re not going to have that luxury. Too many mistakes, myself included. We’re all accountable here.”
Thomas Vanek scored Buffalo’s other goal, as the team falls to 6-4-0 on the season.
- Mike Weber, we’ll see you Wednesday. The guy has to play. The defense as a whole isn’t playing well enough to merit keeping him out of the rotation again.
- Offensive zone trainwrecks, defensive and discipline lapses aside, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville both scored. They are now each on three game point streaks, and are both in the top five in the league in points. Leading by example.
- Credit Drew Stafford for standing up for his teammate. Showing that kind of tenacity earns you respect. But in the game situation, he’s gotta know better to not go over the edge. Get in his face and shove him against the boards. Realize that there’s a penalty coming, especially at that point in the game. Read the rest of this entry
We’re LIVE on the air from the press box at First Niagara Center, where tonight the Buffalo Sabres host the Florida Panthers.
Buffalo (6-3-0) looks to extend their home winning streak to a season-high two tonight against Florida (5-4-0), after finally winning their first of the season at the FNC on Thursday night against Columbus.
Florida is coming off a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to the lowly Ottawa Senators, a game in which they allowed the winning goal by Nick Foligno with just 2.5 seconds left in regulation.
The teams met last week in Sunrise, a 3-0 whitewashing by the Sabres. The goaltending matchup will be the same as that game, with Ryan Miller in net for Buffalo and former Hart Trophy winner Jose Theodore in net for Florida.
We will have live updates throughout the game, with commentary, so keep checking back during the game.
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Warmups // Same lineup out on the ice for Buffalo, save for Miller being first out as the starter. The Florida Panthers and South Buffalo heartthrob Tim Kennedy at the other end.
Scratches // The expected for Buffalo. Mike Weber, Jochen Hecht and Tyler Ennis. For Florida, it’s Keaton Ellerby, Sean Bergenheim and Mikael Samuelsson.
Starting lineups // Florida goes with Theodore in net, Dmitry Kulikov and Mike Weaver on the blueline, and Scottie Upshall, Marcel Goc and Tomas Kopecky up front. Buffalo starts the Gaustad line, Sekera and Ehrhoff, and Ryan Miller.
17:46 1st // Ville Leino makes a nice play in the corner, pulling sort of a dummy and drawing a defenseman to him to create a great scoring opportunity for Drew Stafford. Very smart play. I like it.
14:31 1st // Andrej Sekera cuts off a breakaway pass by forcing a decision on a potential odd-man break. A smart, aggressive defensive play eliminates a possible scoring chance for Florida as the puck goes harmlessly to the corner. Miller stops play after an easy shot.
10:01 1st // Brad Boyes banks the puck in off the skate of Matt Ellis. Play is reviewed. Replay seems to show skate swung forward towards net. Ref says no goal. Right call.
9:02 1st // Tyler Myers takes the first penalty on another weak shift by his pairing and the Gaustad line. Not sharp at all tonight, but it’s early.
To this point, the team has played exactly one game at their home rink this month, a loss to Carolina on October 14. They’ve been superb on the road, sweeping a set overseas and winning their first three away games in North America before Saturday’s loss in Tampa.
Now, the Sabres will face that same Lightning team as they open a five game set at First Niagara Center. Only a point back of Toronto (yes, Toronto) for the division lead, a strong showing at home could be extremely beneficial to widening the lead on the rest of the Northeast Division, which, heading into Tuesday, sits 12th (Boston), 13th (Ottawa) and 15th (Montreal) in the East.
The Sabres have plenty to be happy about and plenty to be unhappy about. Thomas Vanek is scoring goals like they want him to, leading the team with six. The top line of Vanek, Jason Pominville and Luke Adam have combined for 11 goals and 25 points in the team’s seven games to date. At 5-2-0, they are getting to a solid start.
But there’s other stuff that is of some concern. The team was awful on Saturday in Tampa, so they’re coming off their worst outing of the year. Tyler Ennis is out for a few weeks with a high ankle sprain suffered in that loss. Ville Leino, the key offseason addition at center, has been relatively atrocious and asked Lindy Ruff to be moved to the wing.
So, they got that going for them. Read the rest of this entry