Any time the Toronto Maple Leafs are in town, it’s dreaded. Thousands of thousands of the worst, most obnoxious jackasses that come through the doors of First Niagara Center all season routinely leave their mark.
Tonight, they left jerseys on the ice. They left beer cans. And they left without two points.
The Buffalo Sabres, with a home crowd in Leafs gear booing them as they took the ice, played their best and most complete game of the season. With a 6-2 win, the throngs of visitors and their opponent went home angry and disgusted.
It was great. Really. Really great.
Zemgus Girgensons scored twice and Buffalo got rock solid goaltending from Michal Neuvirth, stopping 32 of 34 Toronto shots.
“It’s hard enough when you don’t win games,” said Girgensons. “Today was absolutely different how we played.”
Tyler Ennis, Drew Stafford, Matt Moulson and Tyler Myers also scored for the Sabres.
“It was a fun one,” said Ennis.
David Clarkson and Phil Kessel scored for Toronto, who lost to the Buffalo Sabres.
- Buffalo registered a season-high 35 shots on goal. The previous high was 32, twice. They registered 30+ just three times before tonight, and won none of those games.
- Brian Flynn on that second goal was super dreamy. Tyson Strachan ripped the puck around the wall and Flynn took off immediately, beats Reimer to the puck and is cool as the other side of the pillow in finding Girgensons in the high slot. Great play. Super duper.
- Understated with the goalscoring output is how well Neuvirth played. Made some huge saves early to keep the Leafs off the board until late in the second period. Read the rest of this entry
For 60 minutes, fans were treated to some of the most monotonous, unremarkable hockey that has been played in First Niagara Center, which is saying a lot.
But five thrilling minutes of four-on-four hockey weren’t enough to decide the game, and thanks to a skills competition, Montreal walked out of Buffalo with two points after handing them a 2-1 shootout loss.
Drew Stafford scored the only goal for Buffalo, but goaltender Michal Neuvirth was sensational all night. While the Habs struggled to get shots on goal early, Neuvirth was sharp all night, stopping 31 of 32 shots, including 16 of 17 over the final 25 minutes.
Montreal’s Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau scored both in regulation and in the shootout to propel the Canadiens to the win.
Buffalo now faces a weekend back-to-back where they host Edmonton and Pittsburgh on Friday and Saturday.
- This might’ve been Brian Gionta’s best game as a Sabre. Facing his former team, he didn’t tally a point but did manage to score in the shootout. He was noticeable, much more noticeable than he has been.
- Good for Nic Deslauriers stepping up to scrap and try to make an impression. He got fed some fists to the face, but you appreciate the effort.
- Tyler Myers was credited with the primary assist on the Stafford goal. Great work by him taking the puck himself, trying to deke through his own teammate Tyler Ennis, and losing control of the puck in such a way that it coasted right through a defenseman to Stafford on the doorstep. They all look the same in the boxscore. Read the rest of this entry
After a notably poor performance in the opening period of last night’s loss to Florida, the Buffalo Sabres came out flying against the Boston Bruins on Saturday night. Outshooting the visitors 16-12, it was a much better start for the struggling Sabres. Except for that whole scoreboard thing, of course.
A goal by Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton near the midway point of the first period held up, and Boston rookie goaltender Niklas Svedberg collected his first NHL shutout as the Sabres lost by as score of 4-0.
Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug and Carl Soderberg also scored for Boston, who collected just their third win of the young season.
Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth, starting for the second consecutive night, put in an admirable effort, stopping 32 shots and falling victim to some traffic in front of him. Unfortunately, the admirable effort
“Everybody’s frustrated when you lose,” said forward Cody Hodgson.
Buffalo extends their scoreless streak to 142:06, having last scored a goal Tuesday in Carolina. They now head west, with their next game in Anaheim on Wednesday.
- Losing isn’t a bad thing, considering the endgame of this season, but it’d be cool to see some competent offense once in a while.
- Brian Gionta, Tyler Ennis and Matt Moulson were on the ice for three goals against. Gionta has been highly ineffective to this point and he’s wearing a big letter on his chest. It’s still only six games in, but it’s becoming disconcerting.
- The Sabres are going to end up being slumpbusters for a lot of teams this season. 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
With all the children off for Columbus Day, and a hastily organized “Kids Day” set for the Sabres’ matinee matchup against the visiting Anaheim Ducks, one might expect a light, fun atmosphere.
Yeah, not so much.
With the announced crowd of 18,912 watching, the Sabres were thoroughly and completely hammered by the Ducks, with Anaheim handing Buffalo a 5-1 loss in a game that was never close.
Starting with Andre Benoit’s penalty 18 seconds into the game, the Ducks rolled, outshooting the Sabres 17-3 in the opening period and 44-12 in the game. Sabres goaltender Michal Neuvirth, making his season debut and looking sharp early, never really had a chance, making 39 saves.
“Five goals against, that’s a lot,” said Neuvirth. “That’s too much. Tomorrow’s a new day, and we all gotta be better tomorrow.”
The Ducks got goals from Corey Perry, Matt Beleskey and Ryan Kesler, as well as the first two of William Karlsson’s NHL career.
Tyler Ennis scored in the third period to make it 5-1, his second goal of the season after tallying in Saturday’s loss to Chicago. Matt Moulson and Drew Stafford picked up assists on that goal, while the rest of the team was pointless, some in more ways then one.
Buffalo heads to Carolina to face the Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
- I think it’s pretty damn awesome that the Pegulas shelled out the cash to buy 90,000 t-shirts to give out between yesterday’s Bills game and today’s Sabres game. Giveaways are cool. Giveaways that are unsponsored are an effort. Great gesture. Shame that there were a couple thousand unclaimed shirts draped all over the seating bowl.
- Usually Ted Nolan seems very positive after games. He’ll say some things to show he’s not happy, but in the end he’ll have an optimistic spin on it. After the game, he was as pissed and upset as I’ve seen him since he came in last November. He claimed there would be lineup changes, but there’s only so many moves he can make. Marcus Foligno was scratched with an injury, so there are no spare forwards, and Nikita Zadorov and Tyson Strachan are your spare defensemen. Is that an improvement?
- Michal Neuvirth and Jhonas Enroth will both get hurt in the next month or two. They will not be able to handle this workload all season. Read the rest of this entry
With the Washington Capitals leaving their stars out of the lineup, it looked pretty easy for the Sabres. Unfortunately, every team they play this season won’t be doing that, so they’re still pretty screwed.
On a brisk Wednesday night in Buffalo, the Sabres jumped ahead early and rolled to a 6-1 victory over the visiting Capitals, wrapping up their home preseason slate.
Buffalo got two goals from Matt Moulson, as well as markers from Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno and Sam Reinhart, who all scored their first of the preseason. The Sabres led 5-0 before Washington got on the board in the third on a goal by Jason Chimera.
“It was a good game all around,” said Ennis. “It was nice to see Reinhart get his first goal. Everyone contributed.”
Jhonas Enroth was a stud in net again, making 22 saves and solidifying himself as the likely starter for the season opener. Coach Ted Nolan wouldn’t confirm that after the game, but he acknowledged that Enroth is in a good position to be the team’s top goalie.
Buffalo wraps up their preseason on Friday in Carolina.
- This was by far the best game Sam Reinhart has played this fall. I commented early how he looked like he belonged, and he followed that up with a goal in the third period. Before I wasn’t sure he deserved a look once the season starts, but he does now.
- Marcus Foligno had a nice game. His goal was good work, as he basically got a free pass to the goal crease and walked it around Washington’s Braden Holtby. It’s good that he’s contributing. He’s going to need to do that regularly at some point.
- Jhonas Enroth might end up getting 60 games this year if he plays this well. Hard for Nolan to turn elsewhere when he’s getting strong performances like this.
Read the rest of this entry
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
Maybe 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
It 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
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