Final Score: BUF 3 NYR 2
The Sabres played a solid game tonight earning a much needed two points, giving them back to back wins for the first time this season. With two points tonight, the Sabres are now two points out of a playoff spot in the East Division, with 7 points. Yes, maybe it sounds strange to already be paying attention to the playoff race but with a shortened season, every point counts and is important.
Buffalo did play a nice game against a struggling Rangers team. Third period aside, the Sabres looked like the better team in this one. The Sabres have looked like they have improved on the ice this season and it’s a good sign that they’re starting to get results in the win column.
Arrow Up/Arrow Down:
- Second power play unit: Buffalo’s second power play unit has been very impressive for the last few games. The group has a goal in two straight games now. Colin Miller scored in Sunday’s win over Washington, and Dylan Cozens scored tonight. Cozens now has two goals this season and you can tell that he’s starting to get a lot more comfortable on the ice.
It is a small sample size but having a second power play unit that is able to score could go a long way for this team. It seems like it’s been forever since they’ve had that luxury, especially in the Eichel era.
- Toby Rieder: Rieder has been a pleasant surprise for the Sabres so far. I don’t think many Sabres fans anticipated Rieder making as much of an impact as he has so far, but he has been impressive considering his role. He bring much needed speed to the bottom six, and if he can score a goal here and there, that’s great too. He has done well filling in for Girgensons in his absence.
- Jack Eichel: It was only a matter of time but Jack Eichel has finally scored his first goal of the season. He has certainly been getting a lot of chances to score over the last few games, but it was nice to see him finally get it. Let’s see if the floodgates start to open for Eichel.
Another positive on the Eichel goal, Rasmus Dahlin finally got a point with a secondary assist here. Dahlin has had a rocky start to the season and this could be a good confidence boost for him. He has looked a lot more confident since he was benched a few games ago.
- Third period: Buffalo played a good game but the third period was not very easy on the eyes. They came into the period with the 3-2 lead and held on for their lives for the entirety of the 20 minutes. They registered two shots on goal as well which is not good enough. Linus Ullmark faced 15 3rd period shots and played well when his team needed him to which is nice to see. Defensively, the Sabres have been much improved and that is what separates this team from previous seasons. Going forward, I’d like to see this group try and build on their lead rather than sitting back like they did tonight.
- Kyle Okposo: Very minor arrow down here but Kyle Okposo seems like he has lost another step in terms of skating. He can still be an effective bottom six player in a defensive role but at some point does Krueger consider putting someone who is a better skater in that role? I don’t think they would go to the extent of making Okposo a healthy scratch though, but having more speed at the bottom of the lineup isn’t a bad idea at all.
- Chris Kreider took a boarding penalty on Jake McCabe at the end of the second period. McCabe looked like his arm was injured but he did return to the ice after the Sabres power play. The season has been short but the Sabres have been the victim to a lot of dirty hits like this.
- Matt Irwin made his Sabres debut tonight with Henri Jokiharju being out day to day with an undisclosed injury. Irwin had a decent game and showed that he can be a reliable defenseman when called upon.
The Sabres have three winnable games coming up on the schedule. Thursday night, the Sabres will host the Rangers once again. And Buffalo will also host Lindy Ruff and the New Jersey Devils on Saturday and Sunday for a pair of 1:00 p.m. games. This stretch is a good opportunity for the Sabres to creep up the standing in the East Division. They need these wins.
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