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Overreactions: Sabres beat Sens in shootout

454972815_slideThe 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
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Delayed Overreactions: Sabres drop home opener as Miller stops many pucks

183125572_slideRyan Miller did more than he needed to for the Sabres to get a result. They didn’t. And so begins the issues.

Playing their first game of the season at First Niagara Center, the Buffalo Sabres were shutout by Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson, as he out-dueled Miller and helped the visiting Senators hand the Sabres a 1-0 loss in front of a sellout crowd.

Ryan Miller stopped 45 of 46 shots, surrendering a goal to Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson with 1:35 remaining in regulation.

“Would’ve been nice to grind one out and get an ugly one,” Miller said. “You just have to gain points where you can get them. I just needed to make one more save there. It’s disappointing.”

Buffalo peppered Anderson with 35 shots, failing to beat him at all. Thomas Vanek registered nine shots on goal himself, but came up empty.

The Sabres also went 0-for-4 on the powerplay.

“I thought both teams deserved a point,” Vanek said. “We were the first team to break at the end, which is disappointing, but the effort was good again.”

  • Considering I’m the guy who incessantly talks about game presentation, I need to point out that the pregame was pretty damn good and there were noticeable improvements throughout the game. The bracelets they gave away added a nice effect, but overall, it’s better. There’s still some things they can do better, but it’s not like it’s still as bas bad (#unfollowBuffaloWins) as it was. We’ll see what they do for the next game, when there’s not the season opening festivities.
  • Thomas Vanek got killed by many after the game for losing Karlsson on the game’s only goal, but after watching the replay, Tyler Myers has to do better. As Clarke MacArthur came into the zone along the boards, Myers had him closed off before he inexplicably backed off and allowed him space to wait for Karlsson to jump into the play. If he plays MacArthur more aggressively, maybe the play doesn’t even happen. Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis were standing around as well. One bad play, one goal, one loss.
  • Vanek just didn’t have his touch. Had numerous glorious chances, but some bad decisions mitigated some of the opportunities. A few passes were just off. But he’s getting those chances at least. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 28/48 Edition: Sabres lose in Sabres fashion to Sens

163808165_slideThe Buffalo Sabres played one of their best first periods of the season on Saturday.

Their opponent had limited quality scoring opportunities and good work in the offensive zone gave them a solid 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. But this is the 2012-2013 Buffalo Sabres.

Ottawa stormed back in the second period with three goals, and scored the winner in overtime as they defeated Buffalo by a score of 4-3. Kyle Turris won it with the Senators enjoying the extra man thanks to a Christian Ehrhoff penalty halfway through the extra period.

The Sabres salvaged a point thanks to a third period equalizer by Drew Stafford, who scored his second of the game with approximately eight minutes left. It was his second of the game, doubling his season goal total.

“We gave them a point tonight,” said defenseman Mike Weber, who tallied his first goal of the season. “It’s extremely upsetting. I don’t know what else to say.”

Goals by Patrick Wiercioch, Chris Phillips and Kyle Turris turned the game around for Ottawa, who outshot the Sabres 15-9 in the second. Buffalo, by virtue of the point earned in overtime, temporarily moved into 12th place in the East.

Ryan Miller stopped 30 shots in the loss.

“We’ve got to put together a hell of a stretch here just to have a chance to get in the playoffs. To go to sleep there for 20, it’s extremely disappointing,” said Weber.

  • Ville Leino looked really good in his season debut. He picked up an assist on the Weber goal, and was in position to get a piece of it on its way through. It’s hard to gauge how his absence has effected the team. As much as he draws the ire of many, the team is better with him than without him.
  • Not sure I’d have called it “interference,” but Christian Ehrhoff definitely earned that penalty in overtime.
  • Hopefully, Drew Stafford gained some confidence with his two goals. He earned them how he should be earning them regularly: going to the front of the net and getting pucks on goal. If anyone could use a little hot streak, it’s him. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 69th Edition: Sabres get it done in Ottawa

In the spot they’re in, the Sabres are going to put themselves into a good spot if they find a way to assert themselves and grab games early. Saturday night in Ottawa, they never led for a second. But they left Canada’s capital with two points.

Erasing a one-goal deficit not once, not twice, but three times, the Buffalo Sabres found a way to win, earning a 4-3 shootout victory over the Ottawa Senators.

Tyler Ennis scored the decisive goal in the shootout.

Buffalo got yet another strong game from Ryan Miller, who made 33 saves, some in spectacular fashion before stopping two of three in the shootout.

Three times Ottawa took a lead, but they were all answered by the Sabres. Nathan Gerbe scored midway through the second to make it 1-1. Ennis tied the game at 2-2 with less than 20 seconds left in the middle period. The clutch goal to send it to overtime was scored by Marcus Foligno, his first career goal in his 2nd NHL game with 5:54 left on the clock.

“It was good to see us get pucks to the net, and we got a couple of nice bounces and that comes from just putting the puck in good areas,” Miller said. “They all count and they were a little bit dirtier. We needed it.”

It was an impressive effort from the Sabres to rebound, as Ottawa capitalized on Buffalo errors to jump ahead throughout the game. A Tyler Myers turnover at the blueline led to Erik Condra’s shorthanded goal. A breakout pass into Cody Hodgson’s skates set up Erik Karlsson’s first goal of the night. The third goal was a lost battle in front that led to Karlsson banking a shot off Miller and in from behind the goal line.

Buffalo now heads home, where they have Sunday off before facing Montreal at First Niagara Center on Monday.

  • The most important contract Darcy Regier has to get signed this summer is Tyler Ennis. The much discussed “second contract” is going to be key for the team’s cap situation for the next few seasons. Getting this guy signed for a reasonable rate is important. Injuries have kept his totals down this season, which should help, but Ennis is going to be a star by the time he has to sign his next deal. The most dynamic player in the organization, Ennis could be the team’s #1 center in a few years.
  • When Marcus Foligno came up earlier in the season, it was blatantly obvious he was not ready for the NHL. Seems like a totally different player now. I’d prefer to keep him in Rochester longer to continue development unless injuries provoke recalls, but you see why Zack Kassian was expendable. Solid 16 minutes from the rookie.
  • The defense is going to have to make a concerted effort to aim for the blade of Cody Hodgson’s stick instead of the blade of his skates. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 38th Edition: Sabres drop the ball on NYE

Jhonas Enroth was as good as he needed to be.

The rookie, getting his first start in three weeks, was solid for the Sabres, stopping 44 of 46 shots through regulation and overtime. Unfortunately, the goal support didn’t do quite enough to get the effort into the win column.

In a spirited affair at First Niagara Center, the celebrations were muted despite Enroth’s big night, as Ottawa’s Bobby Butler scored in the fifth round of the shootout to hand Buffalo a 3-2 shootout loss.

“I felt good out there tonight,” Enroth said. “I was a little bit nervous before the game, but I told myself to relax and compete. Usually when I do that, it works out well for me.”

Shootout markers by Brad Boyes and Jason Pominville were cancelled by Ottawa, and extra rounds shooters Derek Roy and Drew Stafford failed to beat Sens goalie Craig Anderson.

Buffalo falls to 17-17-4 on the year, good for 11th place in the East.

The Sabres twice jumped into the lead in the first 60 minutes on goals by Brad Boyes and Paul Gaustad, the third of the season for each. Both leads were eventually answered by Ottawa.

  • The bottom six has been taking a lot of flak here lately for not putting the puck in the net. Tonight, they chipped one in. But with the top line not producing like they have been, they didn’t get that third goal that would’ve been the difference. Three goals should win you a lot of hockey games. Top line gets one, secondary scoring gets one, depth gets one. If all three groups chip in, you’re in really good shape.
  • For fuck’s sake, you’re really gonna play the Chicken Dance between regulation and overtime? No wonder the place is so passive. Holy shit, it’s the most intense part of the game. The game is on the line and you think it’s a good time to dance? How the fuck is this shit allowed? Fuck.
  • Hopefully this strong performance is enough to convince Lindy Ruff to keep going back to Jhonas more often. When the backup isn’t playing lights out, he’s too tempted to stick with Miller. The team has three back-to-backs in the next 19 days. He shouldn’t even think about not splitting them. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 33rd Edition: Alright… okay…

Tuesday night’s game was one of those nights where maybe you’re not quite sure how to react anymore. Maybe you just laugh. Maybe you snap. Who knows at this point.

In an effort to reassert themselves after Saturday’s debacle in Pittsburgh, the Sabres came out and worked hard early. Unfortunately, the goals never came,  bad mistakes did them in, and they walked away from another game on the wrong end of the result.

With Marcus Foligno and Derek Whitmore making their NHL debuts, a depleted Buffalo squad just didn’t do enough to get it done, falling to the Ottawa Senators, taking a 4-1 loss at Scotiabank Place.

Jordan Leopold scored for Buffalo, who now sits in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with the loss.

Ryan Miller, who attracted some deserved criticism after being chased twice against the Penguins, rebounded with a strong game in which he seemed to make the saves he needed to, but didn’t get enough help from his teammates offensively. Miller finished with 35 saves on 38 shots, as the Sens outshot Buffalo 39-23.

“I thought the first 40 was a pretty even game,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “We knew we couldn’t play run and gun with them, but I thought we created some good opportunities, but didn’t take advantage of them.”

The Sabres now head to Toronto, where they’ll play their last game before the holiday break.

  • Derek Whitmore, under the circumstances, was outstanding. After a full travel day Monday coming off three games in three nights, he was energetic and created good pressure offensively. With that performance, he’s definitely not first on the list to go back to Rochester. Or shouldn’t be, at least.
  • Now that we’re getting that far the depth chart, you’re finally seeing a guy get called up and just show he’s not ready yet. Marcus Foligno is going to be a good NHL player. He’s got natural talent and a good game. But he’s not gonna earn a spot for a year or two. It showed tonight.
  • Thank god Jordan Leopold’s chipping in goals, because no one else on the blueline is. Leopold now has six goals on the year. Every other defenseman that’s suited up this season have combined for eight goals. That’s not good. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 30th Edition: Strong start subsides, Sens slip past Sabres

Strong starts have been finding a way to fade lately at First Niagara Center. Less than a week after blowing a first period lead to Philadelphia, Buffalo found a way to do it again.

Despite allowing an early goal, Buffalo was dynamic through most of the first period, generating good opportunities and heading to the locker room with a lead. As we’ve seen recently, those leads tend to get away.

Drew Stafford left Senators defenseman Jared Cowen alone in front to put the puck past Ryan Miller 45 seconds into overtime to hand the Sabres a 3-2 overtime loss.

Miller was strong for Buffalo, making a season high 41 saves.

Buffalo got goals from Paul Szczechura and Tyler Ennis. Szczechura’s was his first in a Sabres uniform.

Now, Friday approaches as the Sabres conclude a five game homestand with exactly one win so far to show for it. Up next is the Toronto Maple Leafs, two points ahead of Buffalo.

  • Tonight was the kind of game that I was expecting from Zack Kassian when he got the recall. Used his body well, did alright in the offensive zone, and didn’t throw his weight around. That’s how his game has always come across to me. He’s been playing atypical of that lately, but he was back to what I’d assume is his old self tonight. Credited with zero hits on the night. Hell, even Gragnani got credited with a hit.
  • Mike Weber was really good in his return to the lineup. Tied for the team lead with three hits and was overall strong for his 16:31 on the ice. With the way some other guys have been struggling and Myers still on the shelf, Weber just needs to play well and he should stay in the lineup for a while.
  • Marc-Andre Gragnani was completely ineffective as a 12th forward. He did get a lot of minutes on the powerplay (3:39) but his lack of use at even-strength renders the viability of him in this capacity to a minimum. Guy needs to sit down for a game or two.
  • Ville Leino, your key offseason addition down the middle: 14:49 TOI, -1, 1 shot and a solid 1-for-10 on faceoffs. By the way, Tim Connolly, who everyone ran out of town out of sheer stupidity, scored two goals tonight for Toronto. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 15th Edition: Enroth sensational in Sabres win

Jhonas Enroth started in goal for the Buffalo Sabres Friday night.

As has been the case all season, the same result followed: they won.

With the rookie netminder making 36 saves and with the offense giving him plenty of cushion, Buffalo defeated Ottawa 5-1 to extend their winning streak to four games.

The Sabres jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on goals by Derek Roy and Matt Ellis, and that was enough for Enroth, who stopped all 25 shots he faced in the second and third periods to move to 5-0-0 on the season.

“He’s done a good job coming in,” said Roy, who has four goals and eight points during the winning streak. “He’s stepped up in the games, made big saves for us, and has gotten some big wins for us.”

Enroth is now 12-0-1 in his last 13 decisions, and hasn’t lost a game since November 24, 2010 in Pittsburgh, a 1-0 loss.

Buffalo also got goals from Jordan Leopold, Luke Adam and Ville Leino. Drew Stafford had three assists.

  • It may have been the best game the defense has played as a whole in a while, but Tyler Myers still had moments where you wonder what the hell is wrong with him. There was a play in the second period, where with Derek Roy about to take the faceoff, the Ottawa player was tossed from the circle. Roy, knowing that this would need adjustments, turned around, pointed and told Myers to move to his left, as that is where he was going to win the draw to. Myers instead moved to his right, closer to the boards. Roy won the draw exactly where he planned to while Myers was 15 feet away, and the puck went right out of the zone.
  • The Sabres did an extended pregame tribute to veterans, making a big production of the national anthems and also “God Bless America” in salute of Veteran’s Day and Remembrance Day, or whatever Canadian holiday it is. In concept it was very nice, but I’m gonna go ahead and ask that they never give the crowd an American flag to pass around like it’s a beach ball again.
  • Getting Ryan Miller on track is very important. To do that he’s going to need games. Unfortunately for that, I’m not sure how you find enough ways to work in Enroth consistently while playing Miller through his floundering of late. The guy keeps winning, and points are as big now as they are in March. Sabres have nine games left this month. Pretty sure there’s gotta be some way to get Jhonas in for at least four of those. Strong play has to be rewarded. Read the rest of this entry

Delayed Overreactions, 13th Edition: Sabres shootout success stops Sens

It took long enough, but the Sabres finally skated more than 60 minutes, and they came away with two points to boot.

Even after 65, it wasn’t until Derek Roy sealed it in round six of the shootout that Buffalo defeated Ottawa by a score of 3-2.

Roy was the hero in his hometown, tying the game at 1-1 in the second period and then getting the winner. Jordan Leopold also scored for Buffalo, who were backstopped by Jhonas Enroth for the second night in a row.

The decision to go with Enroth caught many off guard, but the rookie continued his flawless record, moving to 4-0 on the year.

“It’s not an easy decision to make because we need both guys going,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “I wouldn’t be standing here putting everything on Ryan for that debacle we had in the first seven minutes against Philly. Philly’s a good team.

“I think Jhonas has stepped in and played well, his numbers are good and just on a hunch I decided to give him back-to-back games.”

Enroth made 25 saves and denied four of Ottawa’s six shooters in the skills competition.

  • Really shocked that Ruff was willing to go with Enroth. He may have looked at it like “Well, if he comes in and wins, great, but if I stick with Jhonas and he loses, maybe everyone will shut up and leave Ryan alone.” They got the win, and Miller will have a chance to redeem himself this week. Maybe, I guess. Who knows.
  • Tyler Myers did a great job activating in the offensive zone, but defensively, he’s still a bit of a mess. Both Senators goals were created by situations where Myers was positioned too far away to make a play on it, allowing players to break in past him.
  • Corey Tropp had another solid game. I think he could use some more time in Rochester to play key minutes to develop, but the kid is gonna find a spot on the team. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, Edition 69: Scoring a win for Rico

There’s really not much that can be said.

Yes, the Sabres won Sunday, but the day was more of a loss than anything.

Just hours after learning of the passing of Sabres legend Richard Martin, they honored him by defeating Ottawa 6-4.

Coming off a long seven-game road trip and a loss in Toronto the night before, a determined team showed up at HSBC Arena. Led by two goals from rookie Tyler Ennis, Buffalo returned home and moved back into 7th place in the East.

Nathan Gerbe scored the eventual game winner in a play that easily evoked what everyone fondly remembers of Rick Martin, streaking down the wing and ripping a slapper past the goaltender.

“That was a mirror image,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “You don’t see those very often. As soon as it went in, I thought it was vintage Richard Martin right there.”

As a fan, not being there at the game, it’ll be one of those games you’ll remember and wish you got to experience. Seeing that poignant salute to the banner at the end is going to stick in the minds of many Sabres fans.

What does this win mean, other than two points? Way too early to tell. But maybe this team showed that it has what it takes to dig down and pull out a little extra when it matters.

  • Tyler Ennis is going to be a star in the NHL. How long it takes is the question. Kid’s got a nose for the net, and he keeps racking up points. Get some muscle on him and lock him up for a long time, because he’ll be a rock for this franchise for the forseeable future. Read the rest of this entry