Final Score 3-2 Arizona (Shootout)
Arrow Up – Carter Hutton
With the exception of 2 very strange bounces, Carter Hutton brought his A-game the entire night and he deserves no blame for the loss. Though he’d like to have the first goal against back, he was hugging the post and somehow the puck found it’s way into the net. A weak clearing attempt by Eichel allowed the puck to remain in the zone and ultimately back in the net as the period winded down and prevented the Sabres from taking a 2-0 lead into intermission.
The second goal against again was a weird re-direction up in the air that bounced off of Hutton’s backside and into the net on the powerplay. As the game went on, Hutton was pressured more but held strong and ultimately stole them a point in my opinion. He almost gave away the point in overtime after getting carefree with the puck near his net but aside from that he was spot on.
Arrow Up – Overtime
This team is set up so well to play 3 on 3 as their play makers specialize in carrying the puck with speed and cycling it around among themselves. The patience and poise that the overtime regulars get is impressive and makes them very dangerous when games do reach extra time. They certainly made up for their poor play since the end of the 1st period by controlling play in overtime and coming up with several chances to win it. Multiple posts by Buffalo and a big scare by Hutton made for an entertaining overtime that the Sabres could’ve easily won so I felt their strong play at 3 on 3 warranted an arrow up tonight as it’s been consistent for much of this season when the time comes.
Arrow Down – Weak 3rd Period
Viz By: @NatStatTrick
As mentioned in the game preview, the Sabres have struggled in the 3rd period lately and that trend continued tonight. Per Natural Stat Trick, the Coyotes held a heavy advantage in most categories related to puck possession in the 3rd period as noted below:
CF% – 68.75%
Scoring Chances % – 10 For and 7 Against
High Danger Chances – 8 For and 1 Against
The two lines that really struggled tonight were the 2nd and 3rd as neither could generate many opportunities, though Skinner and Johansson connected for a very nice goal. Based on how this team is trending down in important puck possession metrics, it’s time for Krueger to change things up on both the forward lines and defensive pairs. That coupled with a more aggressive approach in 3rd periods will go a long way to ensuring this team stays relevant well into November and a repeat of last years debacle doesn’t happen again.
Arrow Down – Ristolainen and McCabe Pairing
I have always been a big fan of McCabe but these two together just isn’t working. The numerous times they give up the puck in their own end when there’s time to make a play and maintain possession is infuriating to watch at times when such simple plays are available to them. We all know what Ristolainen is at this point in his career and I will never understand why he is on the ice as much as he is (25:18 tonight). He’s continually reacting to plays instead of playing proactively which is a recipe for disaster for guys getting as much ice as he is. McCabe on the other hand is just being miscast in that shutdown role when he is best suited to be on a 3rd pair.
- This was the Sabres first loss in front of the home crowd and also their first shootout loss of the season.
- Jack Eichel scored a goal on his birthday.
- Buffalo will end the month of October with a 9-2-2 record and 20 points which will go down as their 2nd best record ever in October. Second only to the 2006-07 President’s Trophy team who recorded 21 points in 11 games.
The Sabres have off until this weekend when the play the Capitals (Fri.) and Islanders (Sat.) back to back before headed overseas in the NHL Global Series for 2 games against the Lightning.
A shakeup of the lineup seems inevitable at this point as Sobotka is basically invisible on the 2nd line and Olofsson continues to add very little value to the 1st line. Krueger seems content with his roster as is but his hand is going to get forced soon here as picking up points playing like this is not sustainable in my opinion.
Stay tuned to @TheChargingBUF for previews and post game recaps.