Final Score: 3-1 Sabres
Dahlin picked up right where he left off in his rookie year capping off a great performance with a gorgeous goal. Dahlin cradled a pass from Reinhart with one hand and chipped the puck to the top-right-corner as he skated back to his left. Dahlin and Miller were an even 12-12 in shot attempts for/against versus the Penguins and did their part shutting down the Penguins top players. Despite not registering a point on the power play, Dahlin quarterbacked the first unit with confidence and command generating multiple good scoring chances from the blue line.
The Sabres’ Special Teams
The Sabres were able to pull out the 3-1 win despite a penalty differential of 5-2. While this usually wouldn’t be a recipe for success, the Sabres special team units were up to the task and kept the Sabres from losing a game they likely would’ve let slide in the past. The Sabres’ penalty kill allowed one goal on five attempts, while the power play scored one goal on two attempts. The Sabres’ second unit came through when Conor Sheary tapped in his second goal of the game with the man-advantage in the 2nd period. While first unit didn’t find the scoresheet, they showed promising possession and the ability to create high-quality chances.
Casey Mittelstadt / Conor Sheary
Mittelstadt was in on both of Sheary’s goals showing off his impressive hand-eye and playmaking ability. Mittelstadt drove an impressive third line with Sheary and didn’t look out of place as he did at times over the course of his rookie year. Sheary flashed nice finishing ability around the net — if the Sabres can tap into this from Sheary more consistently, the depth will really be improved.
- Jokiharju was excellent breaking out of his own zone
- Consistent pressure all game — didn’t abandon their system
- Great overall commitment to defense
- Carter Hutton played great
- Eichel was rather quiet. Reinhart with a great pass on the Dahlin goal.
- Olofsson had a few nice opportunities — probably won’t be long before they start going in.
When Ralph Kreuger took over as Sabres Head Coach, he insisted the team would show immediate improvements due to the structure they’d play with. While it’s only been one game, the Sabres showed a commitment to what Kreuger was preaching in a 60-minute effort against the Penguins on the road to open the season. With a shot advantage of 41-29, the Sabres showed intensity and pressure on the forecheck while providing an impressive defensive effort. They clogged up the neutral zone and sucked the life out of the Penguins’ breakout. While there was room to clean up penalties, the Sabres’ penalty-kill did a nice job cutting off Pittsburgh’s zone exits and passes through the neutral zone. With a rather quiet night from the Sabres’ top line, it was encouraging to see the effort from the rest of the lineup and to generate immediate secondary scoring to start the season. Carter Hutton was solid in net and seemed to instill confidence with tough saves in crucial moments. The Sabres’ first game was a sign of encouragement for what looks to be a more structured team. A commitment to Kreuger’s message shined through in game one, but the true test will be bringing this effort each night. Either way, you couldn’t have asked for a much better start to the Sabres’ 50th Season.
See you Saturday.