Overreactions with 57 to go: Latvia defeats Tampa in a shootout

459856786_slideRiding a hot streak coming into Tuesday night’s game against the first-place Lightning, anyone could’ve respectably expected the Sabres run to come to an end. The team’s winning ways have been marked by stellar goaltending and puck luck, things that people who use logic and evidence would consider “unsustainable.”

But Ted Nolan knows how to get his boys to grit out wins, so the streak continues.

A late Zemgus Girgensons goal forced overtime, and the Buffalo Sabres walked away victorious in the shootout, defeating Tampa Bay 2-1.

Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis scored in the shootout for Buffalo, who’ve now won six of their past seven. But the star was goaltender Jhonas Enroth, who made 26 saves and kept the Lightning off the board for the first 49 minutes of the game.

“Obviously the confidence is a little bit higher now,” Enroth said.

Ondrej Palat scored for Tampa Bay, who were limited to two shots as a team in the opening period.

“The one thing we are doing is we’re getting better and we’re working on certain things,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “Part of getting better is that resiliency, to keep going and keep going.”

The teams head to Florida to complete their back-to-back on Thursday.

  • That game was absolutely brutal to watch. Forget the result, that wasn’t entertaining hockey. But that’s Ted Nolan for you.
  • One of the few players who jumped out at me as playing well was Nikita Zadorov. Kid has been really good all year. In fact, he’s been so good it might be a good idea to let him go play in the World Juniors.
  • I get that Girgensons has been playing well, but let’s take a step back on the All-Star talk. It’s a bunch of Latvians voting like crazy. If every team gets a guy, then maybe he’s that guy. But he’s not even top 100 in scoring. Relax.
  • Hey Sabres, if you’re still believing in your price points, please notice that you couldn’t even break 18,000 for a value game. Thousands of empty seats for that one.
  • Games like this are the ones that cause problems. Yes, theboxscore says the Sabres won. But they won it by playing bad, ugly hockey, focused on parking the bus over being proactive. They won it the Latvian way. This kind of crap is what Nolan supporters called “success,” the unsustainable way of gutting out wins. It’s not the kind of work that wins championships or creates exciting hockey. It’s brutal. But it’s two points, so a lot of people will shrug it off. This is a big reason why Nolan can’t be a long-term guy.
  • I did see a surprising amount of black and red jerseys floating around the crowd, definitely more than last year. Two of the in-game promos in the first period featured people decked out in black and red. Good to see it catching on.
  • Shootouts are literally the only thing between the Sabres and last place. The Sabres’ four shootout wins are the difference between their point total (20) and last place (16), with Columbus and Edmonton both sitting on 0-1 shootout records.

3MI Three Star Selections
1. Jhonas Enroth, Buffalo
2. Zemgus Girgensons, Buffalo
3. Evgeni Nabokov, Tampa Bay

Official Three Stars of the Game
1. Jhonas Enroth, Buffalo (36 saves, 1 GA)
2. Zemgus Girgensons, Buffalo (Goal (8))
3. Tyler Ennis, Buffalo (GDG)

Quote of the night:

“Did we put ourselves in positions for some quality Grade A early scoring chances? We did and we passed them up every time. That was tough. You look at our shots attempted, it wasn’t that bad, we just gave up our Grade As. Give Buffalo credit, they were in lanes and blocking shots and doing everything they had to do.”

— Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper

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Posted on December 3, 2014, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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