Final Score: 5-2 Anaheim
The Sabres six-game point streak to start the season came to an end Wednesday night following their 5-2 loss to the Ducks. Anaheim’s physicality was evident in the matchup and put the Sabres on their heels after blowing a 2-0 lead. Here’s how it went down:
Good 1st Period
The Sabres played a great first period, bringing a wave of high-quality scoring chances, ultimately resulting in goals from Olofsson and Eichel. Eichel got the scoring started with a perfectly-executed poke at his own blue line to send him off to the races. Eichel sold the backhand and Gibson was buying all of it.
Jack carved his edges hard to the right — across Gibson’s body — and lo and behold, he had himself an open net. The goal was a thing of beauty and seemed to have the Sabres off and running. Olofsson followed it up later in the period on the lone bright spot for the Sabres’ power play of the night. The rookie got lost in coverage to the right of the net as Sam Reinhart fished out a loose puck on the power play. Reinhart found Olofsson through a seam and Vic made no mistake for his 6th of the year. The first period was everything Kreuger and the Sabres had established over the first six games.
Power Play faces adversity
The game got sloppy and there was no shortage of penalties, something we probably would’ve welcomed prior to the game with how hot the Sabres power play has been. It looked to be picking up right where it left off with Olofsson’s tally, but struggled as the game went on. Anaheim played an extremely aggressive penalty kill, pressuring the Sabres in their own zone and the neutral zone. A mixture of the Ducks’ aggressiveness, the Sabres’ sloppiness and poor ice conditions led to an ugly night for the Sabres power play. Colin Miller eventually took some shifts with the top unit and things didn’t get any better. The unit went an overall 1-for-7 on the night.
- Defensive zone play was far too similar to last year at times in the game. The true test now will be to show they won’t let it snowball.
- After a nice start to the season, Rasmus Ristolainen took a step back against the Ducks. The direction of the game physically and mentally against the Ducks may have forced Risto out of what seemed to be improved habits under Ralph Kreuger, but like the team, it’ll be crucial to see how Risto responds against LA.
- The hit on Olofsson was ugly but the only way to truly respond is to capitalize on the ensuing power play. It’s not the 80’s, no one is going to run players as a response anymore.
- Dahlin has had better nights and his all-around game continues to be a work in progress. He’s 19, he’ll be OK.
- Rodrigues and Vesey had tough nights as well. Have to wonder if Sheary and Lazar see game action soon.
The Sabres are right back at it tonight against the Kings and it’ll be really interesting to see how the team responds to their first true test of adversity of the season. After the good start last year, the team didn’t handle losing well and far too consistently allowed losses to spiral out of control. The Sabres need to focus on re-establishing their defensive structure