Game 7: Trapped and Suffocating

Tonight’s game was certainly one to forget. Tampa Bay executed their 1-3-1 zone to perfection, choking the Buffalo offense on their way to a 3-0 shutout of Buffalo.

The first period didn’t have any scoring, but there were a few things to note. First off, Tyler Ennis left the game after being shoved into the net by Ryan Malone and did not return. Ville Leino ended up taking his spot on the Roy line at left-wing. Also, Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta was doing a great job agitating and creating chances. Finally, the “Tunnel of Death,” Robyn Regher had a monster hit on one-time Sabre, Dominic Moore. He definitely has to be a fan favorite already with the toughness and hitting he’s provided in just seven games so far. Overall, Buffalo had a defensively-sound period, save for one flurry of Lightning chances that was started by an ill-advised pass by Derek Roy into his own end. Myers, Regehr, and Sekera were the stand-outs on D, the Gaustad line was been the best forward line, and Miller was solid.

There was some scoring in the second period though. Unfortunately, it didn’t involve the Sabres. Pavel Kubina ripped a shot from the point that beat Miller who was badly screened on the shot. The scoring chance all started with Leopold letting Stamkos go at the blueline instead of hitting him. Not a good shift by him at all. Other than that, this period was pretty much the same as the 1st. Very few chances for both teams, thanks to solid defensive efforts by both teams. Tampa started to really play the trap once they got their goal, which is mind-boggling since the Sabres are such a potent offensive team and it was only 1-0 at the time. The same guys who stood out in the first also stood out in the second. I’d throw Vanek and Pominville in the mix as well. Their second period was impressive. However, Luke Adam’s 2nd period was not. Lots of mistakes in both zones and a delay-of-game penalty.

Things got hairy in the third period though. Buffalo started getting sloppy in their own end and Tampa Bay was getting more chances as a result. None of them went in the net for them though. Tampa Bay got their second goal of the game via a horrible giveaway by Ville Leino five feet from the blueline. He forced a pass to the boards which got intercepted and redirected to Marty St. Louis who deked Miller out of his jock. What very few offensive chances the Sabres had never materialized into goals into the 3rd and as a result, they ended up getting shutout. Victor Hedman would add an empty-netter to complete the scoring for the night.

Overall, I thought both teams played pretty evenly, but unfortunately, a couple of bad mistakes ended up in Buffalo’s net. Fans shouldn’t overreact though. It’s only one game and Buffalo finished up with a respective 3-1-0 record on their four-game road trip.

Some quick hits to wrap things up:

-Lost in this game was Ryan Miller’s performance. He was awesome again and could do nothing about the two goals scored on him. Miller was left on an island.

-The power play was atrocious. They had a hard time gaining the zone on a consistent basis and a lot of the puck movement was strictly on the perimeter. There were barely any real chances generated at all.

-Andrej Sekera was the best defenseman on the ice. He was a rock on defense and looked like he was barely breaking a sweat doing it.

-Gragnani needs to sit. He didn’t do anything to build on that rebound game in Florida and was consistently lost in his own end of the ice. His decision-making on the power play needs to be better too. I wanted to see Grags shoot more to open things up for Ehrhoff.

-Luke Adam was godawful. The rookie center whiffed on scoring chances and was a giveaway-machine in every situation on the ice. Games like this come with the rookie territory, but what Adam needs to do is not let these games multiply. Otherwise, he’ll be back in Rochester.

-It was good to see Stafford engaged all game. Can’t believe this is the same player I watched just two seasons ago.

-If anyone has seen Brad Boyes, be sure to tell him that the season has started.

-Derek Roy probably had the strongest game out of all the forwards, save for one bad giveaway. I think he’s on the verge of an offensive explosion.

-Regehr and Myers continued to be a juggernaut pairing on defense. Nothing gets by those two.

-Lindy was forced to juggle lines like a mad-man once Ennis left the game. That certainly helped contribute to the offensive woes tonight.

The Sabres will have their chance to get their revenge at home on Tuesday night at 7:00 when they play Tampa again. Yours truly will be in attendance, so hopefully the game won’t be a snoozer like this one was.

Scoring Summary:

Tampa Bay– Kubina (Stamkos, Purcell), St. Louis (Lecavalier, Connolly), Hedman (St. Louis)

Buffalo– None

Scoring Per Period

1

2

3

Buffalo 0 0 0
Tampa Bay 0 1 2
Shots On Goal

1

2

3

Total

Buffalo 8 8 5 21
Tampa Bay 7 10 9 26
Team Stats

Hits

Giveaways

Takeaways

Faceoffs Won

PIM

Buffalo 21 5 4 25 4
Tampa Bay 20 7 9 27 8

Game Scoresheet

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