The Sabres finally broke through and picked up their first win since resuming the season with a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils.
Jumping on the Devils early and picking up a 3-0 helped the Sabres overcome a strong pushback by New Jersey in the 3rd period who pulled within 1 with 2 3rd period goals.
New Jersey dominated the 3rd period at 5v5, picking up 4 high danger chances for and only allowed the Sabres to generate 1 high danger chance (via natural stat trick).
Dylan Cozens returned the lineup and gave the team an immediate spark, he Taylor Hall and Eric Staal help setup Collin Miller for the game’s opening goal and the Sabres first 5v5 goal since their season resumed.
After dominating the 1st period, the Sabres continued their impressive play into the 2nd. Sam Reinhart scored 2 goals in the period, one on the powerplay and one at 5v5 to give the Sabres their biggest lead of the game.
In the 3rd, the Sabres sat back a little bit and allowed the Devils to get within one thanks to goals from PK Subban and Kyle Palmieri.
Both teams got impressive performances in net, Ullmark made key saves to keep the Sabres ahead and if not for Blackwood the Devils would have found themselves in a much bigger hole.
Arrow Up – Rasmus Dahlin and Will Borgen
It took a pandemic and a Covid problem but the Sabres finally paired two of their promising young D together in this game and got immediate results.
The pair played 12:49 together at 5v5 against the Devils and posted a 56.25% CF% and a 68.51% xGF%(via natural stat trick).
Ralph and the coaching staff were impressed to say the least.
Krueger said, “The future potential of the Dahlin-Borgen pair is really something that excites us.” #Sabres— The Charging Buffalo (@TheChargingBUF) February 20, 2021
In a season that has had its ups and downs for the goalies, Linus Ullmark was really impressive in this game. He stopped 25/27 shots in this game, including 21/22 at 5v5 and he stopped every high danger chance he faced (via natural stat trick).
If the Sabres can play the way they did today and get consistent performances like this from Ullmark the season may not be dead just yet, although there’s a long way to go before any optimism can return.
Arrow Down – Jake McCabe Injury
A pretty solid game today so not a whole lot to nitpick, but the Jake McCabe injury is something that Sabres fans and the team should be concerned with.
He hurt his knee in a 3rd period collision with Nico Hischer and Krueger didn’t sound too optimistic about the situation.
Krueger on McCabe’s status after leaving the 3rd period with a leg injury:— The Charging Buffalo (@TheChargingBUF) February 20, 2021
“We have a lower body injury there and I’ll be honest with you, I’m very concerned.
We don’t have an official diagnosis but it rips my heart to see what Jake has gone through [coming off of COVID].”
- The Kyle Okposo-Cody Eakin-Tobias Reider line looked solid today against the Devils and Okposo drew the penalty that led to the Sam Reinhart game winner, more perfromances like this from their depth will help the Sabres chip away at the hole they dug themselves into.
- I already talked about him in the game trends, but Will Borgen deserves a ton of credit. He sat around waiting for his chance and he’s taken it by the horns. He has been arguably the best defenceman on the team, playing at 5v5 and playing minutes on the PK … he should be a regular for the rest of the season.
- Dylan Cozens was sorely missed, his impact and youthful jump can’t be understated. The team looked completely different having him back in the lineup and hopefully that continues going forward.
The Sabres are off tomorrow before getting right back into game action against the Islanders on Monday, every game is crucial from here on out, but the Sabres finally broke their 5v5 scoring drought so maybe they have something to build on going forward.