Final Score: 5-2 PIT
The Sabres lost their ninth consecutive game Thursday night, dropping the first of eight meetings this season versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5 to 2. Buffalo started off the contest rather poorly, as a botched passing sequence between Casey Mittelstadt and Jacob Bryson ended up on Evgeni Malkin’s stick, and then the back of the Sabres goal. A mere 27 seconds later, Tage Thompson picked up a loose puck along the half-wall, carried it behind the net and buried the wrap around to level the score.
In the second period, both teams continued to exchange blows, as Brandon Tanev torched Sabres defenceman Matt Irwin and put one past Jonas Johansson. A few minutes later, Riley Sheahan tallied his 100th career assist as he found a streaking Victor Olofsson in the slot to tie the game at 2. Penguins forward Jake Guentzel added another tally for Pittsburgh shortly after, bringing the score to 3-2.
In the final frame, Buffalo allowed a quick one, this time with Pens forward Anthony Angello potting his first of the season. Aside from a Colin Miller/Zach Aston-Reese fight and an empty net goal scored by Bryan Rust, the third period was relatively dull.
⦁ Not A Lot: It’s hard to find many positives when a team is on a nine-game losing streak, and that statement rings true at the moment with the Sabres. It’s been tough sledding the past couple of weeks, as the luck seems to be escaping Krueger and Co. They have fared quite well versus Pittsburgh the past couple of years, having won the season series versus the Penguins two seasons in a row. They’ll have another crack at them come Saturday, and maybe it will bring an end to this dreadful, unlucky stretch of hockey.
⦁ The Sabres “Puck Luck”: The Hockey Gods have not been shining down on the Buffalo Sabres this season it seems, as they cannot seem to catch a break. The puck always seems to take that unlucky hop over the stick while trying to keep it in the offensive zone, or ring off the pipe after beating the goalie when Buffalo is in desperate need of a tally. Tonight was another indication of this, most notably when defenceman Colin Miller beat Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry twice in the span of 40 seconds, but caught the right side post on both occasions. Just flat out UNLUCKY.
⦁ Matt Irwin: Matt Irwin has been struggling as of late, as it seems any sort of bad defensive highlight features his name. He was beaten quite easily by Penguins forward Brandon Tanev which led to Pittsburgh’s second goal of the evening, and has been caught up ice too many times to count, as of late. Whether it’s a case of just trying to do too much, or something else, Irwin sure would love to catch a break sooner rather than later.
⦁ Sabres forward Tage Thompson scored his first goal of the campaign, potting a nice wrap around goal in the first period, assisted by Kyle Okposo and Cody Eakin.
⦁ Props to Colin Miller for standing up for Dylan Cozens after he was drilled from behind into the boards by Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese. A late hit sparked Miller to drop the gloves with Aston-Reese, and Miller seemingly won the short disagreement.
⦁ Sabres forward Riley Sheahan recorded his 100th career Assist tonight, after setting up Victor Olofsson on a beautiful pass from the left corner. Congratulations on reaching a career milestone, Riley!
Jack Eichel Injury:
Sabres forward Jack Eichel sustained what appears to be a neck injury during this past Sunday’s game versus the New York Islanders, and is slated to miss some time. Originally announced from Head Coach Ralph Krueger as a “day-to-day” injury, it was reported Thursday afternoon that the injury could potentially sideline Eichel for a substantial period of time, perhaps even the remainder of the regular season.
It’s unclear at this point how long Eichel will be out for, but the Sabres are certainly hoping he can get back on the ice at 100% health in the near future.
Buffalo will look to secure their first win in ten games, as they take on the Penguins in the second game of an eight game series, Saturday evening at 7pm EST.