Final Score 4-3 Buffalo (OT)
Arrow Up – Jack Eichel
After not finding his way on the scoring sheet Saturday night in San Jose, Jack Eichel absolutely torched the Sharks all night. Contributing to all four goals in the game with 2 goals himself and 2 helpers is the type of dominant performance that can win this team games.
It’s no surprise Eichel was a bit frustrated after a lackluster road trip out west (points wise). Potting only a goal in the three games, you could see the weight immediately taken off his shoulders after his PP goal in the 2nd. After that goal, he was flying around even more. He and Skinner were fantastic last night.
Arrow Up – Home Ice Advantage
While it’s still early in the season, the Sabres are a perfect 5-0-0 at home. That’s something to be excited about after years of poor performances in front of fans at the Key Bank Center. They’ve been entertaining to watch, outscoring their opponents 22-11 (23-11 if you want to count the third “goal” in Buffalo’s shootout win against Florida).
With only two games at home before leaving for Sweden for the NHL Global Series games, the Sabres will have to dig in and win some games on the road to keep their hot start alive.
Arrow Down – Sitting back with a one goal lead in the 3rd…again
Another game, another third period where the Sabres had the lead and sat back on their heels. San Jose took over and outshot the Sabres 13-4, which seems to be a common theme. There doesn’t look to be panic or running around like they’re desperately clinging to life, but they defintely stop pressing offensively and it leads to momentum tiliting in favor of their opponents.
I get it, they’re winning so it’s not a problem right now. Just imagine a few of these games they’re winning in overtime after losing the lead in the third end up in the L column. We’d be singing a different tune and feel like points were left on the table. It’s a lot nicer taking the 2 points and moving onto the next game, but it’s a dangerous game to play.
Again, that hasn’t happened and they’ve shown they’re taking steps to improved mental toughness, but it’s probably my top concern this season so far. Hopefully that doesn’t happen and the Sabres continue to see success even after letting a lead slip away.
- Carter Hutton moves to 6-0-0 with a 1.65 GAA and .943 Sv%. While it seems unsustainable, squeeze as much of this out of Hutton as you can.
- At times Buffalo looked like they were half asleep in the first period. Sloppy puck management and defensive positional discipline put them down 2-0.
- Sabres dominated the second period, smothering the Sharks leading to only 5 shots against. Skinner with a big goal in the opening minute of the third period is what I love to see. Going out and taking the lead immediately can give you the momentum, unfortunately over the course of the period, it was handed back to a pressing Sharks team.
- Buffalo leads the NHL in points with 17 points. Their league best 8-1-1 start is complimented by a 5-0-0 home record. Stay loud, stay proud and stay humble Buffalo.
- Casey Mittelstadt’s game has been trending upwards; he showed incredible effort to set up the overtime winner
Let’s talk about that overtime…
Buffalo turned that into a Premier League team to honor Ralph Krueger and I thought that was really a really nice gesture. In all seriousness, they held possession what seemed like the entire time.
You’ll usually seem teams slow things down and try to hold possession, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it to the extent that the Sabres did last night. Cutting in and out of the zone, leaving drop passes and circling around is fine with me as long as they don’t get lazy and make a costly mistake.
Winning a single game home stand will help with momentum going into a two game road trip to NYC to faceoff with the Rangers on Thursday and to Detroit to play the Red Wings on Friday.
New York is off to a slow start. A team widely considered to have one of the best offseason’s in the league with the addition of Jacob Trouba and Artemi Panarin, but have only mustered a 2-4-1 record thus far.
Expect one game to be Hutton, the other to be Ullmark for this upcoming back-to-back.