Final Score: BUF 1 WSH 2
The Sabres looked to rebound after a rough first loss but were ultimately unsuccessful, falling 2-1 to the Capitals; their second loss in as many nights. Despite the loss, the team played a really nice game against Washington tonight. The team’s passing was much better and they didn’t look nearly as rusty as they did last night.
While they weren’t lighting up the score sheet, the Sabres had a good night at 5v5. The Sabres garnered 63.6% of the high-danger scoring chances and 63% of the expected goals (Natural Stat Trick).
The story of the game was the Sabres going 0-for-5 on the power-play.
Linus Ullmark and Vitek Vanecek were the starting goaltenders tonight and both played a solid game for their respective teams. It was Vanecek’s first career NHL start and he played well, but it was surprising to see that the Sabres weren’t able to get a lot of high danger scoring chances on the rookie net-minder.
The lone-goal from the Sabres came from Rasmus Ristolainen. Sam Reinhart was planted right in front of the net to screen Vanecek which helped Ristolainen’s point shot find the back of the net. Hall and Eichel would be credited with assists on the goal.
Arrow up/Arrow down:
- Jeff Skinner: Skinner was easily one of the better Sabres players in tonight’s game. He brought a lot of speed and created scoring chances despite playing on the fourth line with Riley Sheahan and Curtis Lazar. It looks like he’s starting to get some confidence back and hopefully it’ll lead to a promotion to a higher line with a lot more ice time, which he deserves. The Jeff Skinner that we saw tonight was reminiscent of the Skinner that we saw two seasons ago during his 40 goal season
- Dylan Cozens: Cozens built off of a solid NHL debut and had another solid game tonight. He had a much more noticeable first period which included a high-danger scoring chance. It appears that he is making a seamless transition to the NHL which is great to see.
- Taylor Hall: Hall had another impressive game tonight against the Caps. He had an early scoring chance where his shot rang off the post, but he has been as advertised through two games in the blue and gold.
- Jake McCabe: Jake McCabe deserves some praise. Through these first two games, he looks much more sound defensively and hasn’t been having any of the defensive mistakes that we have seen from him in previous seasons. McCabe was the team’s best defender against the Capitals with 18 shots-for and only 8-against while he was on the ice.
- The Power Play: After a solid showing on the man-advantage in the home opener, the Sabres struggled badly tonight. They started 0/3 on the power play in the first period and weren’t able to maintain possession in the offensive zone or create many quality chances to score goals. They would get two more chances on the power play in which they looked better, but the chances weren’t enough to find the back of the net. With the talent they have on these two units, 0/5 is just not good enough.
- Rasmus Dahlin: It was another rough night for Dahlin. The pairing of him and Montour struggled for the second night in a row and the former 1st overall pick has not looked like himself. He had a handful of turnovers and a few instances of stumbling at the blue line. Dahlin looks timid with the puck, almost like he’s afraid to make a mistake. This is year-three for him and stuff like this is going to have to stop soon.
- Sam Reinhart injured his knee at the start of the second period but he returned to the bench only a few minutes later
- Towards the end of the second period, Sam Reinhart was moved up to the Eichel and Hall line in place of Tage Thompson. One of their first shifts together was great, hemming the Capitals into their zone for over two minutes. Krueger pointed to the move as a bright-spot in the game following the loss, so it’ll be interesting to see if Reinhart stays on the line moving forward.
- Taylor Hall took a puck to the face during the third period, while he was getting all stitched up, Skinner got some time with Eichel and Reinhart. Could be a sign that he could be bumped up the lineup soon
The Sabres will be in Philadelphia for another back to back on Monday and Tuesday night. Monday’s game is set for 7:00. After that back to back, the Sabres will be in Washington to take on the Capitals for yet another back to back. It’s a short season so each and every game is important to get into the playoffs, they can’t afford to get too far behind early.
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