Overreactions with 39 to go: Sabres fall to Lightning and don’t blame Neuvirth

461248060_slideThere’s a baseball term called “run support,” referring to how much offense a team produces when a certain pitcher is on the mound, and usually it helps a pitcher’s win-loss record when the team can give him some wiggle room. Michal Neuvirth pitched a gem Friday night, and he had no wiggle room.

Steven Stamkos’ goal with 5:14 remaining proved to be the winner, as the Lightning defeated Buffalo 2-1 in Tampa.

Neuvirth was the star of the night, stopping 45 of the 47 shots he faced, including all 27 (yes, twenty-seven) Tampa Bay threw at him, a Lightning franchise record, in the second period.

“It’s tough to swallow right now, but I thought we gave it our best,” Neuvirth said, per NHL.com. “It was a tough start, and after that I made a couple of saves and settled down.”

Cody McCormick scored Buffalo’s only goal, his first of the season and first career shorthanded goal. McCormick tied the game, beating Bishop after being sprung in alone after Patrick Kaleta collected a turnover in the Lightning zone.

Valteri Filppula scored the first Tampa goal in the opening minutes, but that would be the only offense Tampa could muster thanks to Neuvirth, who’s now lost his last six starts and is 3-11-1 on the year despite a solid .909 save percentage.

Buffalo has lost seven in a row and have won just one of their last 12 games (1-10-1). How about that miraculous playoff run we were talking about a month ago?

  • The difference between this game and every game the Sabres won during that batshit crazy stretch in November-December is puck luck. They didn’t have quite enough. You saw it on the McCormick goal, where a little mistake by Tampa’s defense handed a Sabre a breakaway that they converted. But there was always one other instance where they got a redirect or deflection that turned into another goal, enough to ride the goaltending. Didn’t happen on this night. Ended with a loss.
  • 27 shots against in one period? Good lord.
  • Your only even Corsi player for the Buffalo Sabres was Mikhail “Mike” Grigorenko. But he wasn’t playing with enough grit or something.
  • That whole “line shuffling” thing worked out well, eh Ted?
  • What the Sabres are supposed to do about goaltending is a becoming vastly more interesting as the trade deadline approaches. Neither Neuvirth nor Jhonas Enroth have been consistently incredible, but both have come up with nights like this. Their records suck and it’s hard to read on what they’d do with a good team in front of them. Extend one, dump the other? Ok, then… which one are you keeping?
  • More miraculous fact about Grigorenko’s great Corsi rating was the fact he started in the offensive zone just 28.6% of the time. The coaches didn’t exactly put him in a spot to succeed.
  • Still not quite sure why people think Tyler Myers is having some fantastic rebound season. He just looks good by comparison, I think.
  • The fact the winning goal came via Stamkos (first overall pick) from Jonathan Drouin (third overall pick) is quite hilarious. Tanking is a bad idea.

3MI Three Star Selections
1. Michal Neuvirth, Buffalo
2. Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay
3. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay

Official Three Stars of the Game
1. Michal Neuvirth, Buffalo (45 saves, 2 GA)
2. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay (GW Goal (22)
3. Ryan Callahan, Tampa Bay (1 assist)

Quote of the night:

“Our belief was better this game, but a loss is a loss. We’ve got to be better.”

— Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta

Posted on January 10, 2015, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: