Final: BUF 3 NJD 4 (OT)
The Buffalo Sabres played a solid game on Thursday against the Devils but once again, they do not get the result that they had hoped for. At the end of the day, goaltending cost them big time and this could have easily been a regulation win for the Sabres.
The Sabres have been notoriously bad in the third period when playing with a lead and that was the case again tonight. They entered the third period with a 2-1 lead and didn’t register a shot on goal for the first eight minutes of the period. The killer here was Taylor Hall taking a double minor high sticking penalty, where Miles Wood would score to put them within one. And then right after the second power play expired, Nico Hischier put the Devils on top 3-2. There just has to be more urgency going forward when they are playing with a lead.
- Casey Mittelstadt: Mittelstadt has been a bright spot in the handful of games that he’s played in this season. He looks a lot more confident on the ice and it was nice to see him get rewarded with a goal tonight. At this point, it would be shocking to see him back with the taxi squad anytime soon. For the first time in his professional career, he has earned a full time roster spot.
Sam Reinhart: Taylor Hall made a great pass to Reinhart for a nice finish to tie the game late in the third period on the power play. Reinhart has been on a roll since coming back from injury, putting up 10 points in his last 8 games. Reinhart has easily been Buffalo’s best player this season and is really showing that he is not a product of Jack Eichel.
- Carter Hutton: In fairness to Hutton, the defense in front of him was very weak on these goals, especially from Matt Irwin. But his team really needed some saves at the right time and he couldn’t deliver. That overtime goal just has to be saved, no screen at all and he was beaten clean.
- Linus Ullmark did not return to the ice at the start of the second period after sustaining an injury in the first period. Ullmark played a really strong period making 15 saves. Ullmark has played very well as of late and the Sabres will need him if they have any hopes of getting back into the playoff mix.
- Jack Eichel was a late scratch after taking warmups tonight. He has a lower-body injury, and in recent media availabilities, Ralph Krueger was adamant that Eichel was not injured. Eichel also did not participate in today’s morning skate because he had a maintenance day. In Krueger’s post-game press conference, he revealed that Eichel’s injury is completely new and happened in warmups. In Eichel’s absence, Riley Sheahan stepped into the first line center role and produced a goal assisted by Victor Olofsson
- Tonight marks the third straight game where Jeff Skinner did not play. Skinner skated with the taxi squad today and there is currently no timetable on when he will get back into the lineup.
The Sabres will look to get back in the win column this weekend as they play host to the Philadelphia Flyers for a pair of afternoon games. These games will be crucial for the Sabres to get back into the playoff picture.