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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: Penguins (talented) beat Sabres (not so much)

467052031_slideMaybe if you watched the first ten minutes of this game, you thought the result might be in doubt. If you watched the last fifty, you knew better.

Even despite jumping out to a quick 1-0 lead on the Eastern Conference leading Penguins, the Sabres couldn’t take advantage of early chances before the giant awoke. The result of that is Pittsburgh dominating Buffalo en route to a 5-1 decision in the last game at First Niagara Center before the NHL’s Olympic hiatus.

Drew Stafford scored just under six minutes into the game, but that would be the only time Penguins’ netminder Marc-Andre Fleury would be solved. Buffalo got other chances, but Matt Ellis and Zemgus Girgensons couldn’t quite get it done and the lead was nothing but tenuous.

Then the beast came to life.

A rough hit from Steve Ott on Penguins star Harry Zolnierczyk seemed to rile up the NBC darlings. Zolnierczyk would tie the game late in the first period, and it was over from there. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each scored highlight reel goals in the second, and Brian Gibbons and James Neal added third period insurance goals.

“That’s a good team over there that’s obviously playing extremely well,” Ott said. “We shot ourselves in the foot with a couple of turnovers in the second, but there’s no lack of passion. Every guy is out there working hard trying to compete.”

Ryan Miller, looking to impress Team USA coach Dan Bylsma on the other bench, was solid but helpless, making 29 saves and getting hung out to dry on many occasions.

  • Lots of Penguins fans in the crowd at FNC. Games against Pittsburgh are the right time to play the “Hey Penguins fan, do you know who Lasse Pirjeta or Tomas Surovy is?”
  • Speaking of those guys, we’d all love to have a guy like Malkin or Crosby right? Here is a good reminder of what it takes to get one of those guys. Embrace it, because in the end, we’ll have guys on our team scoring goals like those in the second period. And I’ll take that over hearing the word “compete” on a daily basis 11 times out of ten.
  • Mike Weber on the first Pittsburgh goal, top to bottom, was a complete mess. Sabres were possessing the puck well, moving up ice, and he gets it and fires it into the corner. Pittsburgh easily collects it, goes the other way and he chases them into the corner. By the time he gets there, the puck is headed to the front of the net and Zolnierczyk has all the time in the world to beat Miller. That shift in itself gets him cut from good teams. 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

Overreactions: Heavily favored Sabres start out hot, but fall to Avalanche

185376342_slideThis season’s gonna be fun.

Not in the way of “these guys are so good, I can’t believe it”-fun, but in the way of “this team is a mess and I don’t know what’s going to happen next”-fun. And as a fan, the least you can ask for out of your team is being interesting. And this team is just that.

Facing a red-hot Colorado team in their own rink, the Sabres, still winless at home, decided to mail it in for the first 20 minutes and couldn’t dig themselves out of the hole they were in. Buffalo ended the night with a 4-2 loss to the visiting team formerly known as the Nordiques.

It wasn’t even about how the game ended, it was about how it started.

Colorado took a 2-0 lead before the Sabres even registered a shot on goal, which didn’t happen until 14:09 into the game.

“A lot of our vets are out there to start a hockey game,” said coach Ron Rolston after the game. “I think preparation is the first thing you look at, and focus on what we need to do early on in the game.”

Buffalo was outshot 14-3 in the opening period, and after giving up a powerplay goal to Matt Duchene in the first minute of the second period, they actually made it a game.

Cody Hodgson ripped a slap shot past Colorado’s Jean-Sebastien Giguere to make it 3-1, which was later answered by Avs center Paul Stastny to make it 4-1.

Marcus Foligno would score in the third to make it 4-2, but Buffalo’s scoring struggles continued despite holding a 27-12 shots advantage over the final 40 minutes.

“We just need to come out better,” said Hodgson. “I don’t know what else to say.”

Neither do we.

  • Nikita Zadorov, playing his first NHL game, looked solid. Played like a veteran. The talk went from getting him a game before the puck was dropped to talking about giving him more minutes after the buzzer went. He did look good, but considering the rest of the blueline is a dumpster fire, it’s all relative. Let’s not ruin this kid for playing within himself. Look at the guy wearing #57. Develop him right.
  • That cheer when Stafford put the Sabres’ first shot on goal was loud.
  • Ryan Miller didn’t talk after the game, again. I don’t find that to be a big deal, but it’s interesting because making the decision not to is as much of a statement as anything he’d say. He can’t be happy with the way things are going. He’s not the problem. He’s playing well, and it’s not enough. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions: Sabres score goals (plural), fall to Bolts in overtime

183664516_slideOne of the storylines through the Sabres’ 0-3 start was the ineffective powerplay, which came in at sparkling 0-for-13 after three outings. They fixed it. But the win column… that remains uninhabited.

Twice jumping out to one-goal leads thanks to the man-advantage, the Buffalo Sabres couldn’t close the deal thanks to a dubious tying goal in the third period and an overtime winner to Tampa’s Alex Killorn as the Lightning handed the home team a 3-2 defeat in extra time.

Cody Hodgson and Jamie McBain both scored their first of the season for Buffalo, who drops to 0-3-1 on the young season. Both assisted on each other’s goals, while Thomas Vanek got helpers on both as well.

What ended up being the turning point in the game was a confusing play in the third period. As Buffalo controlled the puck in the Tampa end, one of the officials raised their hand for a delayed penalty. Seconds later, McBain ripped a shot on goal that Vanek deflected past Tampa goalie Ben Bishop, but a whistle blew before the puck entered the net. Confusion reigned before Vanek was sent to the box for high-sticking, not only which should’ve stopped the play much earlier, but that replays indicated was an awful call.

“I thought he was a little bit off today,” said Vanek, when asked about the officiating. “It happens. Too bad.”

22 seconds later, Lightning forward Teddy Purcell tied the game at 2-2, and the overtime result followed.

Jhonas Enroth was solid in goal for the Sabres, stopping 31 shots as Ryan Miller remained sidelined with an injury.

  • Our goal song is “Song 2″ by Blur. Uninspired but solid. I’m ok with it. Signature goal songs come when teams go on deep playoff runs. This team isn’t making one of those. Better than “Lonely Boy” at least.
  • At some point we should really start getting concerned about Mikhail Grigorenko and his ability to develop in Buffalo. Playing him with John Scott and Patrick Kaleta isn’t helping anyone.
  • In his season debut, I really liked what I saw out of Marcus Foligno. Threw some big hits early, including one on Valtteri Filppula that incited a fight between Foligno and the inexplicably named Radko Gudas. Disappointing to see him pass up the golden opportunity he had in the third period as he walked down the slot only to attempt to feed Drew Stafford at the goal mouth. Sometimes it’s better to be selfish. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, Preseason Edition: Sabres fall to Maple Leafs in really, really long shootout

Losing isn’t something the Sabres had done yet. Things were going so well. Optimism was creeping in.

Then the third period of the team’s fourth preseason game started.

Blowing a two goal lead in the final ten minutes of regulation, the Buffalo Sabres couldn’t beat James Reimer in time to save the win as they fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The game was decided by a shootout after a spirited overtime, and it took 30 (yes, 30) shooters to decide the winner. Jhonas Enroth was beaten by Jay McClement in the 15th round of the shootout, and Reimer stopped all 15 shooters he faced.

“I thought our game for 50 minutes was really, really strong,” said Sabres forward Steve Ott. “The last ten minutes, we cost ourselves.”

Enroth was solid in net for Buffalo, stopping 32 of 34 shots in addition to 14 of 15 in the shootout.

The Sabres got goals from Mark Pysyk and Marcus Foligno, while Jamie Devane (sounds fake to me) and McClement scored for Toronto. Reimer made 38 saves for the Leafs.

These teams meet again tomorrow night in Toronto, in what should be the last chance to impress for at least a few players.

  • Brian Flynn really picked up his game from the other night, and his hustle gave him a few chances to make a mark. He needs another game like this to really make his case to stick around with a guy like Zemgus Girgensons in a good spot to make the team.
  • People really hate Patrick Kaleta. Man, he was running around trying to hit anything the first few shifts of the game.
  • Jamie McBain had a pretty solid game, but I’m not sure he’s going to make the team still. It’s obvious they were really trying to give him a solid look, as he had a team high 27:02 TOI, but I think that shows more that he’s on the fence than that he’s got a spot. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 35/48 Edition: Sabres lose again, should trade everyone

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The day started with a blueliner leaving the building, and it ended with the defense nowhere to be found.

In another episode of “This Team Is Not Good This Year,” the Buffalo Sabres blew leads of 2-0 and 3-1 en route to a 4-3 shootout loss to a Washington team they never trailed for a minute of the 65 played on the night.

Buffalo jumped out to an early lead on Christian Ehrhoff’s fourth of the season just three minutes into the game. Ville Leino would register his first of the season just 1:19 into the second to stretch the margin to two, before Washington star Alexander Ovechkin cut it in half just over a minute later.

Leino would add another midway through the second. And it was all down hill from there, starting with Troy Brouwer’s shorthanded goal early in the third period with American hero John Carlson in the box for the Caps.

“It’s disappointing,” said Leino. “That is a big goal to give up and after that they were fired up and wanted to win the game and that’s just things that shouldn’t happen.”

Mike Green would tie the game in the final minute with the extra attacker, and took the game in the shootout on goals by Matt Hendricks and the aforementioned Ovechkin.

Jhonas Enroth, despite stopping no shots in the shootout, was sensational for much of the 65 minutes before that, stopping 35 shots.

“No excuses for it,” said Ehrhoff. “We’re up 3-1 and put this game away and… we didn’t.”

  • Drew Stafford, without being on the scoresheet, played a hell of a game. One of his best efforts in recent memory. Showed a lot of hustle and created some good opportunities. Maybe he knew the scouts were watching, but I had to get him a vote for three stars. He deserved it.
  • You guys in game presentation can be done with the drumline anytime. You’re missing the point.
  • Enroth has been stringing together some nice starts. While the wins aren’t piling up, it’s usually not due to poor goaltending. With a baker’s dozen of games left in the season, he should be getting a fair share, at least four or five of them. But that’s not considering what might happen by Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 31/48 Edition: Wait, I thought this team was bad?

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Sabres forward Steve Ott did score the game deciding goal, but he did a better job summing up the night in the locker room after the game.

“That’s fun,” said Ott.

Buffalo came back from an early 2-0 deficit to tie the game at three before the end of the second and held on in the third to get the game to overtime before they eventually downed the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 5-4 shootout win in front of 19,070 raucous fans, in both teams’ colors, at First Niagara Center.

“Honestly that’s easy energy you can take from the crowd,” added Ott.

The game got off to a wild start as Buffalo John Scott dropped the gloves with Toronto’s Fraser McLaren as Leafs tough guy Colton Orr tried picking a fight with Sabres pest Patrick Kaleta. Orr was booted from the game and Buffalo started off with a four minute powerplay which they failed to capitalize on.

Toronto would open up the scoring with two goals 1:16 apart just minutes later, beating Ryan Miller twice on five shots in the opening period. Tyler Ennis scored late in the period to cut the deficit to one.

The physical play continued to escalate throughout the game, and Toronto regained their two-goal lead on Mikhail Grabovski goal about nine minutes in. Buffalo would storm back on goals 0:45 apart by Marcus Foligno and Jason Pominville to tie the game, and then take the lead early in the third on a Christian Ehrhoff powerplay goal.

Leafs leading scorer Nazem Kadri would tie the game six minutes later, and except for a lot of hitting, the game was unresolved through 65 minutes of play.

“It was nasty and chippy and that’s the way it should be,” said Foligno.

Drew Stafford tallied in round 2 of the skills competition and Ott would score the shootout winner as Miller stopped 5 of 6 Leafs shooters, complementing his 30 saves through regulation and overtime.

Buffalo, with the win, sits just four points out of 8th place with 17 games remaining. Just when you thought they were out, they suck you right back in.

  • John Scott, as much as he gets bashed, may have had his most effective game as a Sabre in 3:02 of ice time. He was able to bait Leafs forward Phil Kessel into a coincidental minor, which is a trade you take any day. And he had some fun after the game.
  • Marcus Foligno always seems to step his game up when they play Toronto. Not just on the scoresheet (has six points in six career games) but as a physical presence. Makes you wish they played the Leafs more often.
  • The drumline in the arena looks dumber and dumber each game. Yes, having someone lead chants is great until they stop, and then everyone else does. You’re creating sheep instead of putting the onus on the fans to make their own noise. Band-aid over a bullet wound. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 27/48 Edition: Sabres win, Tortorella still thinks they suck

163580867_slideOn paper, this wasn’t going to go well.

On the ice, well, that’s why they actually play the games, right?

Jhonas Enroth, starting for the ill Ryan Miller, was sensational on the night, stopping 32 shots to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers. It was Enroth’s first win since November 26, 2011.

“I felt very confident and I had control of every shot,” said Enroth. “I didn’t give up any bad rebounds and stuff like that, so it was pretty much a perfect game for me.”

Buffalo got two goals from Marcus Foligno and the game winner from, surprise, Thomas Vanek.

Even after surrendering the first goal, yet another shorthanded marker scored by Rangers forward and fine American Derek Stepan, Buffalo kept their composure for the most part. Foligno scored moments later to tie the game, and Vanek added what would be the winner with just over seven minutes remaining in the second.

Foligno tallied the insurance marker with about eight minutes to go in the third, banging in a rebound in front of the net. The Sabres, who rocket up to 27th in the NHL standings with the win, would hold on despite getting outshot 18-3 in the final 20 minutes.

Hey, a win is nice every once in a while.

  • Andrej Sekera was fantastic for the Sabres. Great with the puck, made smart and confident plays. Picked up two assists, but those weren’t even his best plays of the night. Overall great game from the Slovak, who played 21:48 of great hockey.
  • Brian Flynn and Kevin Porter may be earning themselves spots on the team. It’s obvious the team may be looking to deal at the deadline, and right now, these guys may be locked in for the remainder of the year if they keep this up. Flynn had an assist and Porter is showing more and more dependability. They bring what you need out of your bottom six.
  • Really shocked that the officials didn’t try to even out the penalty calls in the third period. New York ended up with just one opportunity, where they obviously didn’t score. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 26/48 Edition: Sabres’ ship remains on course

163486250_slide(Holy shit, I really did one for a road game!)

The loss to New Jersey Thursday night was a lost opportunity among few remaining to reinsert their playoff hopes into discussion. After a couple days off, there was another, with the chance to vault two teams with a win over struggling 11th place Philadelphia.

It turned out well.

Facing a team that was such a mess as recently as the day before that they needed a closed-door, players only meeting after a pathetic performance in a loss, the Sabres came out flat and never really put themselves in position to win. They lost, falling to the Flyers in a 3-2 loss on national television.

Buffalo fell behind 2-0 before the game was even halfway through the first period. Sabres rookie Brian Flynn scored his second in as many games to cut the lead in half before the end of the opening frame.

Claude Giroux scored 17 seconds into the second period to give Philadelphia the margin they would need. Jochen Hecht scored a shorthanded goal in the third period, but Buffalo couldn’t tie it.

Ryan Miller stopped 25 of 28 shots in the loss for the Sabres.

  • The Foligno-Porter-Flynn line was really good throughout the game. Flynn notched a goal, Porter added an assist and was named third star of the game. That can be one hell of a fourth line if this team is any good.
  • Speaking of Flynn, his goal was possible because of a subtly-brilliant play just prior to it in the shift. With Philadelphia collapsing around the net, Flynn collected the puck above the faceoff dot. Instead of throwing it towards the net into traffic, he spotted Foligno on the far post and threw it into the far corner boards. Foligno easily won the race to the puck and the Sabres continued to work the puck around, eventually scoring. Possession likely doesn’t continue if not for that heads up play.
  • Hopefully Jochen Hecht keeps scoring so someone might look at the scoreline and think he’d be a useful pickup at the deadline. Read the rest of this entry
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