Final: BUF 2 SJS 3
Shots On Goal: BUF 25 SJS 26
Power Play: BUF 0/3 SJS 1/3
Hits: BUF 27 SJS 22
Blocked Shots: BUF 16 SJS 15
SJS: Tomas Hertl (1) assisted by Kevin Labanc (1) and Mikkel Boedker (1)
BUF: Jason Pominville (3) assisted by Jack Eichel (3) and Zemgus Girgensons (1)
SJS: Chris Tierney (1) assisted by Joonas Donskoi (1) and Timo Mier (1)
BUF: Jason Pominville (4) assisted by Jack Eichel (4) and Zemgus Girgensons (2)
SJS: Timo Mier (1) assisted by Joonas Donskoi (2) and Chris Tierney (1)
After two of possibly the worst games that the Sabres have played in the past couple of seasons, Buffalo started their four game west coast road trip in San Jose. Historically, Buffalo has a very good record against the Sharks for some reason. Even during the tank season of 2014-2015 they were able to defeat the Sharks in both meetings. Going back to last season, Buffalo beat the Sharks in a miraculous 3rd period comeback late in the season.
Buffalo and San Jose came into this game being two of the four teams that have yet to win a game in the 2017-2018 season. After two miserable losses to the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils, the Sabres made a few line changes. Josh Gorges got a chance to be in the lineup for the first time this season and Victor Antipin was scratched. Also, Jordan Nolan was in for Matt Moulson. Kyle Okposo didn’t participate in Buffalo’s morning skate because he was sick but he felt as if he was ready to play in tonight’s game.
What the Sabres needed tonight was a good start. And they did exactly the opposite of that. Marco Scandella took a slashing penalty in the first minute of the game. Going into the game, Buffalo had a 100% penalty kill percentage and was tied for 1st in the league on the penalty kill. Kevin Labanc found Tomas Hertl wide open for an easy tap-in goal to put the Sharks up 1-0 on the power play. Brutal defensive play by Gorges on this goal. He should’ve stayed with his man in front of the net and McCabe wan’t ready to cover for him. Can’t fault Lehner on that one at all.
After 13 minutes of painfully bad Sabres hockey, they finally scored. A pair of nice no look drop passes from Girgensons and Eichel led to a one timer goal from Jason Pominville for his 3rd goal of the season.
The Sharks responded very well to Pommer’s game tying goal. Joonas Donskoi mad a beautiful pass to Chris Tierney in front of the net for an easy tap in. Lehner thought Donskoi was going for the wraparound and left the whole other side of the net open. Scandella completely left Tierney open for the easy goal.
That was a pretty weak period overall for Buffalo. San Jose carried possession throughout a majority of the period and Buffalo was awful on defensive coverage. Both Sharks goals could’ve easily been preventable if Gorges and Scandella would’ve just tied their men up. I’m not going to fault Lehner on either of the 1st period goals. Hertl was left wide open on the 1st goal and you can’t expect Lehner to anticipate Donskoi to make that amazing no look pass to Tierney on the other side of the net. The defense has to be better,
Eichel and Pominville connected for another nice goal. About halfway through the 2nd period, Girgensons made a great falling pass to Eichel, Eichel carried the puck down his off wing, made a great pass to Jason Pominville for the one time finish to tie the game at two. That was Pommer’s 3rd goal of the season. At this point in the game, Eichel, Pominville, and Kane had been the only Sabres players to score a goal. They need more out of their other core players like Sam Reinhart, Ryan O’Reilly, and Kyle Okposo.
San Jose would regain the lead for the 3rd time of the game with 5 minutes to go in the 2nd. The puck bounced off of Ristolainen’s skate right to Timo Mier after Lehner let out a juicy rebound. Easy goal for the former top 10 pick in the 2015 draft. That was Mier’s 1st goal of the season.
Well, the 2nd period was better than the 1st. They played a little harder and were actually able to make some decent passes. Eichel needs to stop passing on fantastic shooting opportunities. The Eichel, Girgensons, and Pominville had another nice period. Girgensons looked a lot better tonight, as he should when you’re beside Jack Eichel.
It was a very uneventful 3rd period. Neither team really had many goal scoring chances. The Sabres looked like they got better as the game went on but it wasn’t enough to beat the Sharks tonight. Yes, the Sharks are a very good team and it’s understandable as to why they’d lose this game. But they the Sabres need to start getting some production out of players besides Eichel, Pominville, and Kane. Reinhart had a couple nice moments tonight but he needs to be better. O’Reilly was practically invisible. Okposo had a rough first 3 games but he looked much better tonight. The defense has been terrible with many turnovers and poor decision making. Everyone needs to step their game up or else this will be a very miserable season. Buffalo will look to get their first win of the season on Saturday night against the L.A. Kings