All it took for Buffalo to lose in regulation was a healthy dose of irresponsibility with the puck and Jason Spezza.
Spezza had two goals and an assist, all in the second period, as the Sens pounded Buffalo 5-2 and handed the Sabres their first regulation loss of the year. And what a fine mess the Sabres were the entire night. They were bad at pretty much everything for the entirety of the first two periods and really they just didn’t show that resiliency I’ve seen in them the first few games.
Ottawa went at them hard early and it really seemed to rattle the banged-up Sabres who were playing without either Craig Rivet or Henrik Tallinder. Without the defensive stalwarts that helped Buffalo to a best-in-the-league 1.6 goals against per game, the Senators were free to shoot from where they wanted and pass it around the zone with impunity, and what really killed the Sabres were giveaways. A TERRIBLE clearance attempt on the penalty kill led to Christoph Schubert’s goal to open the scoring and things got little better from there.
Dany Heatley’s goal, set up by Spezza and also on the power play, was the result of no one on the Buffalo defense even noticing that he was streaking into the slot. How in the hell do you not cover 15? Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t he have close to 150 goals in the last three seasons? Might wanna keep an eye on him on the PK especially. Just a thought.
Spezza’s two goals, like Schubert’s, were both the end result of giveaways. First Jarkko Ruutu dispossessed a Sabre in the attacking zone to spring Spezza for a breakaway goal, and then a failed clearance attempt led to a scrum out front that Spezza was Johnny On the Spot for. Even Sean Donovan’s goal was an embarrassment for the Sabres. How do you leave ANYONE that open in the slot for a redirect. This is Sean freaking Donovan for Christ’s sake! He got stopped on a breakaway by a HIGH SCHOOL KID! You have to get a stick in that passing lane instead of having two guys standing around in it.
Buffalo deserved to lose this game. They played like crap even if they did score a pair of late goals. And yeah, Sabres fans will whine about injuries but the fact is they only went 2 for 10 on the power play. If you get 10 cracks at going a man up, you gotta pop in more than two when the game is well out of hand. It’s really that simple.
Patrick Lalime, of course, didn’t help his cause with the number of big, fat rebounds he gave up tonight, though. He made 23 saves on 28 shots, and that’s never going to win you a hockey game. Alex Auld, meanwhile, was perfectly alright at the other end.
This was more the Buffalo I expected to see this season, but depending upon how quickly Tallinder and Rivet get back, things could unravel quickly in Buffalo. Too many soft forwards that try to make fancy plays instead of doing the straightforward thing in getting the puck to the net, too many bad penalties, and no sense of composure or leadership in their own zone. Just stupid play after stupid play. I know it’s only one loss, but this was a total 180 from the Sabres of this weekend.
New York Rangers 4, New York Islanders 2
Well this box score can’t be right. CHRIS DRURY scored twice? Wow, the Islanders really do suck. The Rangers put 39 shots on Joey MacDonald, who looks like he’ll be between the pipes on the Island for the next little while here. That’s only going to help the Isles’ chances of tanking the season. Apart from Drury, Scott Gomez also started to look like he might almost be worth a small percentage of what he’s actually getting paid in adding a goal and an assist. ‘Course, it was only against the Islanders, so you have to take any success with a grain of salt, one supposes. The other goalscorers were Ryan Callahan, who had a very Ryan Callahan-y goal for the Blueshirts, and Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo for the Fishsticks.
Anaheim 3, Columbus 2
And this was the first in a long line of very, very good games tonight. The line of Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry continues to terrorize opponents, combining for all three Ducks goals and two more assists. Those guys have just been ridiculous this season and they’re doing it with a combined scoring touch and physical edge (mainly provided by Getzlaf, obviously) that teams are clearly finding to be rather difficult to deal with. Also of note in this game: Jiri Novotny of all people had a shorthanded goal for Columbus, and Derek Dorsett got into two fights. That’s pretty badass.
Minnesota 3, Chicago 2
Another good game. Patrick Sharp opened the scoring with his sixth goal in seven games, and the Wild answered soon thereafter with a goal from Andrew Brunette. Minnesota took the lead on an Antti Miettinen goal and doubled it with the eventual game-winner from Brent Burns. Miikko Koivu assisted on all three of those goals. This despite Chicago outshooting the Wild 36-18. Nicklas Backstrom won this game almost by himself. He was unreal, as is the Minnesota PK, which hasn’t allowed a goal in 22 straight kills.
Boston 1, Edmonton 0 (OT)
Goddamn was this an incredible game. Edmonton played like hell for all but the last 10 minutes, but once they turned it on, the last sixth of regulation was unbelievable. Dwayne Roloson, meanwhile, stood on his head to earn the Oil its loser point; 35 saves on 35 shots until Dennis Wideman’s ROCKET on the power play midway through OT sent the Oilers fans streaming for the exits. Just a phenomenally fun game to watch, and Example A1 in why 1-0 games can be more fun than 6-5 ones.
Detroit 4, Los Angeles 3 (SO)
The Kings really deserved better here in this, another great game. The Kings offense was very good once again, but the combination of Hank Zetterberg, Marian Hossa and Valtteri Filppula is going to be a little much for any team to handle, let alone one as poor defensively and in goal as the Kings. Filppula’s goal, which came with just 1:54 left in what should have been a win for LA. It seems like a frustrating way to lose for the Kings, but you gotta see those shootout goals by Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Those were just too pretty for words.