Last night was a game the Sabres should have won. Plain and simple, the Sabres outplayed the Coyotes in nearly every aspect of the game. The bounces just didn’t go their way.
Buffalo’s opening salvo alone should have produced at least three goals and probably contained double the scoring chances. Mike Smith had a little luck on his side as the Sabres found two posts and whiffed on a few open nets. Shane Doan took the air right out of the building with a rocket from the right boards that found the top corner behind Jhonas Enroth.
While the second period was where things got away from the Sabres – outscored 2-1 and outshot 15-14 – the story of the game was a lack of finish. Ville Leino did a marvelous job creating a pair of opportunities, Thomas Vanek had a handful of great chances, none of them went in.
Special teams were a moot point in a game that featured only three minors and neither goaltender looked particularly sharp. Smith made 43 saves to get the win, many of them point-blank, but he was fighting the puck in the early going. Enroth himself looked more like the goaltender from Wednesday, rather than the one that stoned the Hurricanes on Friday. He was kicking out bad rebounds, and looked very uncomfortable for most of the game. Hi struggles, just like Buffalo’s inability to finish, showed on the scoreboard. All three Phoenix goals fall into the questionable category. The first being particularly egregious while the other two had plenty of defensive lapses before the goalie was ultimately beaten for a softie.
Either way, Enroth needs to be sharp when his team outshoots the opponent the way Buffalo has recently. Twice this week the Sabres have held possession and the shot advantage and twice they have lost the game. The forwards need to start finding the net, they have had plenty of chances but haven’t cashed in and the goaltenders need to make a few more saves for the team in front of them.
- Obviously the home woes haven’t been solved yet. They need to soon, the Sabres play 10 of their next 12 at First Niagara Center. A strong showing on this run will open up a gap between the Sabres and those giving chase.
- Tyler Myers looked as if he injured his right arm/shoulder/wrist on Buffalo’s second period penalty kill. He was protecting it quite a bit in the corner before heading off the ice. Losing him will be a major blow to this team. Losing your number six man is one thing, losing a top three guy is a totally different monster.
- Credit where its due, the Leino/Boyes/Stafford line is dynamic. They move well with the puck and all three compliment each other well. If anyone doesn’t fit it may just be Stafford. Regardless, good job by Lindy Ruff putting those three together.
- Luke Adam was rewarded by the hockey gods after he found iron in the first. His tip-in goal was a big boost for a young kid who was recently demoted to the third/fourth line. While Adam may be best suited to play between Vanek and Pominville, his line with Nathan Gerbe and Corey Tropp was involved offensively and looked far more dangerous than the Ellis/Gaustad/Kaleta line.
- Christian Ehrhoff looked foolish on Phoenix’s second goal. However, his last two games have been impressive. While his offense hasn’t shown up yet, he has been involved in the defensive zone. He has even begun to play with a physical edge, something he was missing for games one through seventeen.
- I was disappointed BizNasty didn’t have a better celey planned for last night. I’m sure the last thing he thought he would do is score a goal. But still, I was really hoping to see a one-of-a-kind celebration from the NHL’s best Twitter feed.
1. Mike Smith
2. Radim Vrbata
3. Luke Adam