Overreactions, 8th Edition: Sabres fade early, fall to Lightning

It looked like the homestand was off to a fast start. Too much, too soon.

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first two and a half minutes of the game, the Sabres let Tampa back into the game before the first period was out, and the Lightning ended up leaving Buffalo with two points as the home team lost 4-3.

Thomas Vanek and Brad Boyes scored early for the Sabres, who fall to 5-3-0.

Tampa got a rebound goal from Vincent Lecavalier and Nate Thompson was credited with a late first period goal that went off a defenseman’s skate to tie it. A second period Steven Stamkos tip-in and a late Ryan Malone insurance goal were enough, as Nathan Gerbe’s last minute marker didn’t change the outcome.

Lightning goalie Mathieu Garon was able to bounce back from the rough start and earn the win, stopping 36 shots. Ryan Miller made 19 saves in the loss.

While the team looked underwhelming at times, the Sabres created a lot of pressure in the third period in an effort to tie it up. Buffalo outshot Tampa Bay 17-7 in the final 20 minutes.

  • If you had a “what Sabre will score a goal tonight” pool, and you didn’t take Thomas Vanek, you’re a mess. It’s almost like he just wanted to get the first one out of the way. He had a bevy of chances, including a second period breakaway, but failed to convert.
  • Robyn Regehr was a beast. Whether that’s a carryover from something that happened Saturday, or the man just deciding that he’s going to beat the crap out of anyone wearing white, the guy had an impact. The hit on Lecavalier was spectacular.
  • Ryan Miller played fine. He didn’t exactly do anything to win them the game, but he didn’t exactly cost them the game either, if that makes sense. Sure, that Malone breakaway in the third is the kind of save he needs to be able to make, but it’s still a breakaway, so he usually will get a pass on that. But if he comes up with that save, who knows if Gerbe or anyone else still finds a way to get that game to overtime. Miller has been hit or miss of late. If he’s on (Montreal) he can steal you any game. If he’s not, you better score four goals or you may be in trouble.
  • Another good effort from Andrej Sekera, which earned him a promotion to a pairing with Christian Ehrhoff. He’s got such good hockey sense, it’s just a shame sometimes he doesn’t put the right touch on the puck all the time, like that giveaway in the slot in the first period.
  • In regards to the “Matt Ellis does nothing but win” rule, tonight may just be an aberration because he’s rusty. Still not sure why he didn’t spend any time in Rochester to get some games yet.
  • Ville Leino continues to be a paradox. While he can show great hands and strength on the puck, he fails to know the right time to find a teammate. He’s extremely patient, almost to a fault. He can handle himself in a one-on-one battle, but as soon as that second defender comes, the puck is off his stick. He was -2 tonight.
  • Patrick Kaleta may have played his best game of the season. The guy was a force. Clearly inside the heads of most of the Tampa Bay roster (especially Steve Downie) and ran around hitting with the reckless abandon that earned him a permanent spot on the team.
  • The powerplay wasn’t exactly good. Tampa Bay’s penalty kill put a lot of pressure on the puck and collapsed into passing lanes beautifully. A perfect example, not until Buffalo’s last powerplay did the Sabres maintain any sort of solid possession. They worked around the puck but couldn’t get a good look at Garon. Jordan Leopold ripped a shot from the hashmarks on the outside of the circle as the penalty ended. The Lightning allowed nothing.
  • Tyler Myers was not good.
  • Two home games, Sabres scoring three goals in each, and zero points to show for it. The team has to play better defense at home. Just because the home crowd wants entertainment, that’s no reason not to lock it down and play a solid game like they have on the road. They gotta find a way to get points when they’re throwing 40 shots at the net and scoring three goals.
  • Brad Boyes was rewarded for being in the right spot. With Tyler Ennis and Jochen Hecht out, Ville Leino struggling and not much depth scoring, he’s gotta find a way to step up. Also, he did win the only draw he took. I’m convinced he needs a look at center.
  • Overall it was a good night on faceoffs. Derek Roy won 14/21, Paul Gaustad 9/16, Jason Pominville 6/11 and Luke Adam 5/9. Sabres won 58% of the draws overall. It helped to an extent.
  • Christian Ehrhoff’s gotta do a better job getting the puck through. Seven attempted shots, one on goal. Three blocked and three missed. The gunner on the powerplay needs to be able to get it to the net.

Note: Big thanks to Ian Ott, Kevin Snow and everyone at the Sabres for the accommodations. Job well done.

Posted on October 25, 2011, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Kaleta seems to get smarter each season with his hockey. He always had a knack at drawing penalties, but I feel like sometimes he’d take a stupid penalty trying to draw one. I’ve seen a lot less of that so far.

    And what the hell, Myers. He just looked so… lost, for lack of better words. Yikes. Definitely stepped it up in the third but too little, too late.

    Jealous of your press box rendezvous!

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