Overreactions, 35th Edition: Sabres bust a cap on Washington

That was a hell of a start.

The previous statement isn’t facetiousness, as one would expect with the way the Buffalo Sabres have been playing, especially at home. No, that’s legit.

Opening the scoring just 51 seconds into the game on a Jason Pominville powerplay goal, Buffalo stormed out to an early lead with four first period goals en route to a 4-2 win over Washington.

The returns of forwards Jochen Hecht and Brad Boyes from injury proved to be of great benefit, as the team’s persistent attack in the opening 20 minutes made the difference.

The Sabres chased Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth after Christian Ehrhoff made it 3-0 just eleven minutes into the game with a snipe to the top corner. Brayden McNabb tallied his first NHL goal to close the scoring in possibly the best period of hockey Buffalo has played all season.

“We got everybody going early, we got the fans into it, and we got the bench going,” Pominville said of the early spurt. “You always want to get that first goal, and for us to get it that early was huge for the team. To generate more chances and score more goals after that was big. We limited their chances, and probably could have put a few more away.”

Ryan Miller made 20 saves in the win. Matt Ellis also scored for Buffalo.

  • One of the team’s biggest problems since they’ve been struggling has been the lack of scoring outside of the top line. Tonight, it was two defenseman and a fourth-liner providing the margin. But even with them chipping in, look at the scoresheet: all the top offensive players made an appearance. Pominville got the goal, but Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Drew Stafford, Jochen Hecht and Brad Boyes all picked up assists. When the guys you rely on come through, good things happen.
  • Boyes was really good in his return to the lineup. That additional firepower outside of the first line has been desperately lacking of late. He picked up an assist on the McNabb goal.
  • He was named the second star, but I would still like to point out that Jordan Leopold had another phenomenal game. 
  • Really liked Drew Stafford tonight. His effort was visible, he was skating hard, and he had a few good opportunities despite not finishing them all. He made a nice play on the Pominville goal.
  • Rick Jeanneret and Harry Neale are becoming increasingly intolerable. Neale tried making some joke in the first period that was so incomprehensible, I can almost guarantee you even he didn’t know what he was talking about. Thank god Rob Ray is there to actually make good points. Ray has really become the best part of that broadcast team.
  • Patrick Kaleta took a couple penalties, both of which were deserved, and it’s obvious that he’s never going to get any favors from officials because of his reputation. Because of that, if he’s going to be a contributor on the team, he’s gotta find a way to leave no doubt that he’s within the rules. Otherwise, he’ll get nailed every time.
  • Jason Pominville’s gotta have a good shot for the All-Star Game if he keeps himself in the top 15 in scoring. At the rate he’s going, it shouldn’t be a problem. I’d expect Vanek to be a lock at this point, too. They keep finding a way to the scoresheet.
  • Apparently the Sabres game presentation department put the USA/Denmark game on the scoreboard during intermission. Wasn’t even in the building, but I like that they did that. I’ll point out things they do well as much as I point out things they don’t. That was good.
  • Paul Gaustad had a great chance to make it 5-0 early in the second on a shorthanded rush where he rang a hard shot off the framework behind Tomas Vokoun. Later in the period, it was his failed clearing attempt that paved the way for the first Capitals goal to get them back into the game. Little things can be big swings.
  • Congrats to Brayden McNabb on his first career goal in the National Hockey League. Now, go ahead and pick a real number.

Posted on December 27, 2011, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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