Despite playing 40 minutes of disinterested hockey the Sabres managed to tie the game late and earn a shootout win. Buffalo played with edge and passion in the final period and scrapped enough to get the game to overtime. Nathan Gerbe tallied one of the sickest shootout goals I’ve ever seen to win it and Ryan Miller was only beaten once in the skills competition.
The third period effort was nice to see as the Sabres failed to establish any sort of tone against a team that had played on the road the night before. Considering the Stars had to travel after a game on Thursday, I expected to see a similar Sabres team to the one that played on Wednesday. While the first 40 didn’t provide any such result, Buffalo managed to establish an impressive strategy in the third.
Lindy Ruff confirmed in his press conference that Cody McCormick will miss time due to an injury. His absence didn’t seem to hurt the Sabres as James Patrick pretty much rolled three lines for the second and third periods.
Despite giving up a power play goal on a nifty tip by Michael Ryder, the Buffalo special teams units were sound. Thomas Vanek tallied on the power play and the penalty kill came up big when they needed it. Ryan Miller had another solid outing, stopping 24 of 26 shots and remaining capable to the task when Kari Lehtonen turned in numerous big saves.
In my opinion, starting Jhonas Enroth tonight is the right move. Buffalo has five games in the next eight days with Monday, Wednesday and Saturday to rest. Giving Enroth a start tonight would be the conventional wisdom. Hopefully the coaching staff agrees.
- Thomas Vanek had a good return from injury. His power play goal was a vintage Vanek deflection. He had Lehtonen beat on three occasions tonight but only managed to get the deflection past the Finn. That is the type of game the Sabres will need from Vanek, providing another regular scoring outlet will be needed if Buffalo is to make a run.
- I’m glad Ryan Miller has righted the ship. This is some of the best hockey I have ever seen him play, that includes the 2010 Olympics. He didn’t have much of a chance on either goal as Ryder’s was a perfect tip and the Vincour goal either hits him or hits the net. He didn’t get a shutout yesterday and I’d give him the rest he deserves tonight.
- Good on Ruff to leave Leino with Pominville and Roy. Another tip of the cap for putting Vanek on the wing with Stafford and Ennis. I would assume Vanek finds his way back to a line with Pominville, I just don’t know when exactly that will happen.
- Another solid night from the defensemen. There were some ugly plays here and there, but that is to be expected. I have to think it will be a long time until MAG finds his way to the lineup.
- The third jerseys may not be everyone’s favorite, but by my count they remain undefeated this season in the royal unis.
- Cody McCormick is really having a rough go this season. That concussion really derailed things for him and it doesn’t seem as if he has found his way out of the woods. I won’t speculate what his injury is, I actually thought he was simply benched for that bonehead penalty he took in the first period. When his game is on he is an effective piece of this roster, this year he has been little more than a grocery stick.
- Drew Stafford is truly snake bit. Tyler Ennis had a nice bit of stickhandling on Wednesday to set up Stafford. Tonight the North Dakota product had two glorious chances but was thwarted by Lehtonen.