The Sabres started the season off with a convincing 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks in Helsinki. Thomas Vanek scored twice on the power play and Ryan Miller made 29 saves for Buffalo.
Buffalo’s big guns were active early as Vanek and Ville Leino scored in the first period and Jason Pominville and Vanek tallied in the second. Miller was tested late, turning aside 23 shots in the second and third period after facing only six in the first. The Sabres special teams were especially effective as Buffalo killed off all five penalties and converted two of four power play chances.
There were a few hiccups as the game progressed. The Sabres coasted through the third period after building a 4-1 lead through two periods. They didn’t register a shot in the final stanza and spent a great deal of time short handed. They face Los Angeles tomorrow after the Kings came back to top the Rangers 3-2 in overtime.
- Christian Ehrhoff’s contribution to the power play was immediate. He assisted on Vanek’s second goal of the game after making a strong move down the boards. His presence on the top unit will be a major benefit for the Sabres all season.
- Ryan Miller had an outstanding performance. He had an easy first period but was up to the task in the second and third. He made several sparkling saves and certainly earned his third-star status.
- If Leino and Vanek can get hot early it will be of benefit to everyone involved. Vanek’s line accounted for three goals and eight points today. Leino only tallied once, but looked smooth as a centerman, he won just under 50% of his draws, a number that will go up with more repetition.
- The Robyn Regehr and Tyler Myers paring will be absolutely miserable to play against. Regehr has a serious mean streak and it is clear that it will rub off on Myers – someone who showed his nasty streak in the playoffs. Myers was third in ice time (23:00) and Regehr will log equal minutes if he stays out of the penalty box (4 PIM).
- This team needs to learn to keep the pedal down. It is only one game, I’m well aware. But the way the Sabres shut it down in the third period is somewhat disconcerting. They lost a big lead in game six against Philly and it cost them the series. They need to learn that you press on the throat when your heel is on it, not let up.
- Thomas Vanek: 2G + 1A, 9SOG
- Jason Pominville: 1G + 2A
- Ryan Miller: 29 saves – 30 shots, .967 SV%