The Buffalo Sabres played their final pre-Christmas game with the look of a team ready to break from a major slump. Apparently they weren’t on the good list this year.
After taking a 1-0 lead, the Sabres saw their lead evaporate in 62 seconds. David Steckel found a loose puck that was blocked through a screen and then Phil Kessel chipped home a two-on-one after Robyn Regehr fell at the blue line. Nazem Kadri scored the winning goal on a third period three-on-two.
The Sabres got goals from the players who need to score. Jason Pominville opened the scoring and Derek Roy scored on a great shot on a mini breakaway in the third. They got another sterling performance from Ryan Miller (28 saves on 31 shots) but didn’t have enough to bring home a win.
Miller turned aside 22 of the first 24 shots he faced in two periods of play. The Sabres buckled down in the third, allowing only seven shots on goal. But Kadri’s wrister found the top corner. It appeared as if Miller was screened on the shot as Christian Ehrhoff (who was occupied by a driving forward) and Paul Gaustad (who attempted to block the shot) both were in the shooting lane. Still, it is the only shot Miller probably should have stopped on the night.
The Sabres will enjoy a couple days off before coming right back to work on Monday against Washington.
- The Sabres need to start scoring some goals. It is a pretty simple request considering they have scored more than three goals in four of their last ten games. Won’t win too many games like that, even if your goalie is named Hasek.
- Miller’s first-period play kept this game well within reach for the Sabres. It looks as if Miller (or Enroth) may need to steal a game or two as Buffalo finds their way out of the woods, and he was certainly on track to do so in the first period. There was certainly no tail off in the second and third, regardless of the Kardi goal. It seems as if Miller is finding his way back to form.
- Drew Stafford continues to be snake bit. He was credited with four shots on the night. If he can start finding the net the Sabres might be back on the right track.
- Lindy Ruff’s measured, puck possession, transition system is wasted with all of the talent he is missing on this roster.
- It is hard to go by the NHL scoring regarding the play of Zack Kassian. They only credit him with one hit, but he was engaged for a good portion of the game. Short of hoping that he run every player through the boards, I would like to see him improve the physical aspect of his game. He was doing so upon his recall, it seems that has tailed off a bit.
- 2ITB will take the next two days off. The Morning Skate will return on Monday.
1. Phil Kessel
2. James Reimer
3. Jason Pominville