The Sabres battled the Kings right from the opening faceoff last night, and were a little over two minutes from gaining at least a point for their efforts, but it wasn’t to be as they dropped their fifth straight to open the season last night in Los Angeles.
It was easily their best effort since the season opener in Montreal, but it was a few mental lapses that doomed the Sabres. The Sabres played a terrific road period in the first. They limited the Kings’ opportunities to the perimeter and were able to take a lead into the dressing room thanks to Jack Eichel. Eichel led a two on one with Zemgus Girgensons, and was able to feed Girgensons for a tap in with less than five minutes left in the period.
The lead would last until nearly halfway through the period, and it was a stupid penalty that allowed the Kings to tie it. Josh Gorges, still in the lineup over Victor Antipin, took an unnecessary interference penalty in an effort to give Jake McCabe an extra second behind the Buffalo net, and Los Angeles took advantage. Drew Doughty let a shot go from the right circle, and Dustin Brown was able to bang home the loose puck nearly eight minutes into the middle period.
It would remain deadlocked until the middle portion of the third period, when Tyler Toffoli was left alone in the slot and went top shelf on Robin Lehner. The goal came with the Sabres shorthanded again, this time thanks to a questionable interference call on Jack Eichel in the neutral zone. Eichel would make amends a few minutes later by banging home his own rebound after a nice feed from Evander Kane below the goal line.
Both teams appeared content with at least a point as the clock ticked toward overtime. There was not much to speak up in terms of scoring chances for either team until Kane took an offensive zone tripping penalty with 2:04 left. Los Angeles won the ensuing faceoff clean, made one pass and Doughty ripped a one timer by Lehner to make it 3-2. The Sabres would have a few last gasp chances, including a shot off the post by Marco Scandella, before an empty netter in the closing seconds clinched the game for the Kings.
• Josh Gorges struggled again. Apart from taking the penalty that led to the Kings’ first goal, he was unable to make productive plays with the puck on his stick. Gorges played just north of 13 minutes on the night, three minutes less than any other defenseman, and was constantly buried in his own end when he was on the ice. It’s time for Victor Antipin to return to the lineup.
• The Kings power play came into the game oh-for-the season, then proceeded to go three for three against the Sabres.
• There were a few puzzling decisions made towards the end of the game last night. The first came on the game winning goal, when after an LA timeout Jacob Josefson was sent out to take the faceoff against Anze Kopitar. Obviously, that didn’t go well. I’m not sure why Ryan O’Reilly, your best faceoff guy, was not on the ice to take the draw; he only won 78% of his draws last night. Lastly, where was Jack Eichel for the shift with the net empty? I figured that was pretty automatic to have him on the ice in that situation.
• Eden native Alex Iafallo played 18:29, registered three shots on net, and was minus one in his first game against his hometown team. He also took a holding penalty on Jack Eichel.
• Zach Bogosian was placed on IR this morning and Justin Bailey was summoned from Rochester.
• The Sabres look to get off the schneid tonight in Anaheim. It doesn’t look as if the team will see old friend Ryan Miller, as he’s making his way back from an upper body injury.