Game 5: Ryan Miller, We Are Not Worthy

Despite playing like a Mite team for 30 minutes and being on the wrong end of some dubious penalty calls, the Sabres pulled out a 3-1 win on the road against Montreal.

Ryan Miller was the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd star in this game, making 40 saves. The Sabres had a 1st period from hell tonight, getting out-shot 14-3 and frankly, they deserved to be down 4-0 after that kind of period, but thanks to Miller’s godly performance, the score was tied 0-0 at the end of the 1st. Going into the 2nd, the terrible play continued and defenseman, Raphael Diaz scored  his 1st career goal (that seems to happen a lot to Buffalo) to give the Habs a 1-0 lead.

At about the half-way point of the period, Cody McCormick sparked the team by unloading bombs on Travis Moen in a fight. After that, the Sabres gained some momentum a managed to pop in a couple of goals. The 1st was courtesy Jordan Leopold who finished up the hard work by the Roy line and the 2nd was scored by Thomas Vanek on an absolute bullet with only 2.8 seconds left in the period.

Going into the 3rd period, the Sabres had a 2-1 lead and played pretty evenly with Montreal, not giving them as many chances. Ryan Miller was still up to the task as well and when you throw all those things together along with an Ehrhoff empty-net goal for good measure, you have an improbable 3-1 win on the road.

Besides Miller, there were some good things worth pointing out. Tyler Ennis looked good after being reunited with Roy and Stafford later in the game. In fact, that whole line looked good and is worth keeping together for now. Drew Stafford in particular was one of the few players who bothered to show up for the entire game. His leadership has been Drury-esqe so far. Robyn Regehr and Andrej Sekera were easily the team’s best two defensemen tonight. Regehr kept up his strong defensive play from previous games and Sekera was much more solid than usual in his own end and managed to look great, despite having to lug around Gragnani all night. Leopold wasn’t quite as good as those two, but he was solid and chipped in a goal, so that’s good enough for me. Someone (PK Subban to be specific) went #1 in Vanek’s corn flakes and unleashed “Angry Vanek” and that Vanek is a lot of fun to watch. Again, his goal was amazing and he was skating around like a mad-man in the 2nd half of the game.  Also, you’ve  got to tip your hat to the McCormick-Gaustad-Kaleta line for providing the Sabres with some great fore-checking and helping spark the team later on. The rest of the team could do well to take notes.

With all of that being said, there are still some players that I’d like to call out here. Leino and Boyes were pretty bad as evidenced by Lindy demoting and benching them later in the game. Tyler Myers found himself in the 2nd half of the game, but his 1st half was mired with turnover-after-turnover. I’d like to see the team’s #1 defenseman be more consistent. Outside of the empty-net goal, Ehrhoff’s night was lackluster. He looked shell-shocked in his own end more often than not. Finally, the Marc-Andre Gragnani-era needs to be put on hold. Lindy said that he wanted to give him another chance and unfortunately, he blew that chance. Gragnani was a train-wreck in his own end and did nothing to help the team offensively. As I mentioned earlier, Andrej Sekera had to carry him on his back all game long. There’s no way Gragnani can play over Weber after that kind of game.

Buffalo’s next game will be against Kevin Dineen’s squad in Florida on Thursday night at 7:30. Come puck-drop, Buffalo better be ready to show up. There’s no way that they’ll be able to get away with that kind of start against Florida who has started the season on a strong note.

Game Scoresheet

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