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
The best hockey player in the world was at First Niagara Center tonight, and spoiler alert: he doesn’t play for Buffalo.
Sometimes, it’s just a joy to watch a generational talent just light it up, and Penguins forward Sidney Crosby did just that. Crosby tallied an assist on each of Pittsburgh’s first five goals, as the visiting Pens cruised, leaving the hometown Sabres with a 6-1 defeat.
Zemgus Girgensons scored late in the second period to make it 5-1, but it was answered by a goal by Evgeni Malkin. Pittsburgh also got two goals each from Kris Letang and Predators legend Patric Hornqvist. But it was the Crosby show.
The game looked a lot like this:
Buffalo’s Jhonas Enroth was thrown to the wolves, giving up six goals on 39 shots. The Sabres struggled to generate offense, getting outshot 11-4 in the opening period and 26-12 through two periods.
- Enroth didn’t even speak after the game, but it’s not like there’s much for him to say. He’s 1-7-1 on the season and on average is facing almost 37 shots a game.
- The locker room after games is turning into a contest of “How many guys are left in the room when they open the door?” Guys don’t want to talk, and it’s usually the same things being said. Tonight, it was Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta, Drew Stafford and Zemgus Girgensons who really spoke. Cody Hodgson and Torrey Mitchell milled around. But everyone else just got the hell out of there. What can they say?
- Gionta had a team best 17 Corsi For and a team best 4 Corsi Against. Good game for him. He assisted on the Girgensons goal. 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
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
Returning home from a two-game roadtrip where they got worked in two losses, the Sabres hoped the comforts of home would put them back on track. And they did.
Facing a Devils team playing the second half of a back-to-back, Buffalo, on the strength of a powerplay that helped them generate over half their shots and both goals, walked away with a 2-1 win at a sold out First Niagara Center.
Matt Moulson and Matt D’Agostini scored for Buffalo, as they won their fifth consecutive home game.
Moulson opened the scoring late in the second period, jamming home a loose puck from the top of the crease, his 14th of the year.
For D’Agostini, he finally tallied his first goal as a Buffalo Sabre, putting home a rebound with just over eight minutes remaining in the third period. Good work by Steve Ott and Linus Omark, who tallied his first point as a Sabre on the play, created the opportunity.
“I went in there and the puck was just laying there,” said D’Agostini.
The Sabres shockingly got a solid night out of Ryan Miller, who made 21 saves and got the win. Only a Michael Ryder goal on a two-man advantage blemished his outing.
Buffalo is now off until Tuesday, when they face Carolina in the second game of a three game homestand.
- Tyler Myers should probably get suspended for that hit on Dainius Zubrus in the third period.
- I hate that Mike Weber or anyone else has to fight after a big hit. It’s ok to hit people. If it’s a cheap shot, knock yourself out, but a good clean hit should be respected and not punished.
- For everyone in Buffalo that wants to see Ryan Miller start in Sochi, you better start making a bigger deal out of it or it won’t happen. Not one “U-S-A” chant in the first game since the roster was announced, even after multiple impressive saves. Gotta start getting to word out, people.
- Zenon Konopka was not overly impressive in 11:37 making his Sabres debut. Whatever. We’ll see where it goes.
- John Scott took a penalty, not for being John Scott, or for being targeted by officials, but for doing something against the rules. It happens. Not everything makes him a victim. Read the rest of this entry
To quote Vin Scully, who called Kirk Gibson’s unlikely home run in the 1988 World Series, “I don’t believe what I just saw.”
On what was and will be one of the most incredibly ridiculous goals you’ll ever see, the shorthanded Buffalo Sabres defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 in overtime. Mark Pysyk got credited for the winner as the puck was carried over the goal line by Coyotes goalie Mike Smith.
Reaching for a rebound from his own shot, Pysyk’s effort was deflected up in the air above Smith, and it fell directly into his waistline. Not knowing where the puck was, Smith retreated to his goal, unaware that the winning goal was stick on his backside. That’s a turn of events that could be referred to as “unlikely,” but that definitely happened.
The Sabres were able to get the win despite playing with an incomplete roster, only dressing 16 skaters thanks to a flu bug making its way around the locker room. One of those 16 was John Scott, and another was Drew Stafford, who was ejected mid-way through the second period. Somehow, the home team made it happen.
This was all made possible by a late goal by Tyler Ennis to tie the game at 1. Buffalo dominated play for much of the third period, and a miscue at the Phoenix blueline by the Coyotes allowed Zemgus Girgensons to find Ennis alone in front to beat Smith.
“It’s a great win for the guys,” said Ennis. “We beat some adversity today.”
Ryan Miller made 36 saves to get the win for the Sabres, and was strong in the first period as Phoenix outshot Buffalo 15-3. He was only beaten by a questionably-high deflection from Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal early in the second period.
“These are the kind of things that weren’t happening for us,” said Miller. “It’s a little bit of a Christmas present for us, and we’ll take it.”
More like a Festivus miracle.
- I commented after the first period how impressed I was with Tyler Myers defensively. I thought that might have been his best 20 minutes of the season. The next 40-plus? Back to unimpressive Tyler he went.
- That goal went “viral,” as the kids call it on the internet, and for once the Sabres actually got on SportsCenter and Deadspin and dumb stuff like that. It was a dumb goal that brought a lot of brilliance, especially Harrison Mooney’s Grammy Award worthy “Goal In A Butt”. So much fun, guys.
- Girgensons has been fantastic lately, but I think people need to realize he’s only 19. Let’s not build him up into something he’s not yet. Temper the enthusiasm a bit. I know there’s not much to be excited about with this team, but you run the risk of it getting to his head. That’s dangerous (see: Myers, Tyler) and we do not want to ruin anything about this kid. He’s the real deal. Read the rest of this entry
The Sabres only needed one goal to get themselves a point tonight. No one said it had to be pretty, and they ended up snagging two.
Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons scored once in regulation and the shootout winner as the Sabres defeated the Ottawa Senators by a 2-1 final.
After falling behind early in the first period on a Milan Michalek goal, Buffalo tied it in the second as Girgensons threw a shot from the goal line into Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner’s skates. Despite appearing to take the lead later in the period on a delayed penalty, the game would end 1-1 after 60 minutes as the go-ahead goal was disallowed.
Matt Moulson, Brian Flynn, Steve Ott and Girgensons scored for Buffalo in the shootout, which last ten rounds before Ryan Miller stopped Erik Condra to end it.
Miller made 35 saves on the night, as he won his first game against a team other than Toronto since Ted Nolan took over as interim head coach.
- I figured there was going to be a lighter crowd, and I took some pictures early in the game and posted them on twitter, but it did fill in a bit. The secondary market was extremely soft and the weather likely scared some people off, but there were no more than 14,000 in-house tonight.
- Got into multiple arguments on twitter, but the disallowed goal was not a bad call. The referee reserves the right to determine what constitutes possession when it comes to blowing play dead on a delayed penalty. Did it work out for the Sabres? No. But the rules are written poorly in terms of language defining possession. That’d be nice if it were clearer.
- Here’s the official statement from the league on the disallowed goal: Read the rest of this entry
No matter the circumstances, preseason or regular season, it’s hard to know what to expect after Sunday’s shitshow in Toronto. The circus of the last couple days really had nothing to do with tonight’s game, and it showed.
Not a fight, scrum or scrap to be seen, as the Buffalo Sabres rode the solid goaltending of Jhonas Enroth and steady defense in front of him to a 3-0 win over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets.
Buffalo jumped out to a lead early in the second period as Ville Leino finished a rebound from a Cody Hodgson shot as the team skated 6-on-5 on a delayed penalty. With Enroth on the bench for the extra attacker, the team generated multiple chances before Leino scored his first of the preseason.
That was all the offense they’d need, as Enroth stopped 26 shots to earn his first win.
“I don’t think it was that tough of a game on me, actually,” said Enroth. “Overall it was a pretty easy game.”
Third period goals by Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons provided the insurance for the Sabres, who moved to 4-1-1 on the exhibition season. Defenseman Mike Weber added assists on all three Buffalo goals.
Buffalo has one more game before they play for keeps, Friday night in Carolina.
- Joel Armia played his last shift late in the second period and would leave the game with a hand injury. His line with Grigorenko and Girgensons looked really good, so it was disappointing that he disappeared. Sabres coach Ron Rolston was unsure of his status after the game.
- Weber’s three secondary assists look better in the box score than they did on the ice. He honestly had a pretty good game. Funny how he’s turned from a fringe defenseman to a solid veteran in the matter of a year or two.
- Hey Sabres, maybe don’t have your PR arm brag about the fact you didn’t bother to televise 6 of the team’s 7 preseason games. That needs to change next year, because things like Sunday should convince you that it’s worth the effort. Read the rest of this entry