Game 26: Dewulfs>>>>>>Underwoods

After getting thoroughly man-handled at home by Detroit, Buffalo responded with a solid road win against Nashville, 3-2. Ryan Miller looked very sharp in his return as the team’s starter.

1st Period: It was a pretty slow start for both teams with regard to offense. Both teams were playing safe, defensive games.  The shots were only 5-0 in favor of Nashville half-way through the period. During that time, Joe Finley had a solid take-down of West Seneca-native, Chris Mueller and Vanek, Pominville, and Sekera had a nice rush to set up a scoring chance. Buffalo would score the first goal of the game with their second shot of their period. Luke Adam found a loose puck near the hash marks and shot it past an unsuspecting Lindback. Kassian did a great job forechecking to help set up the goal. Leino and Ehrhoff also made nice contributions on the goal.

Around the 7:30 mark, Tyler Ennis had a great shift, setting Derek Roy for a point-blank chance that he missed on and drawing a penalty. Their struggles on the power play from last night’s game carried into the first power play chance tonight though. Buffalo failed to generate much of anything on it. Kassian didn’t get on the scoresheet for the first goal despite playing a big role in it, but on Buffalo ‘s second goal, he was a one-man show. He went right by the defenseman, Josi and roofed a rolling puck over Lindback’s shoulder with his backhand to make it 2-0 and that’s how it would stay to end the period. Ryan Miller didn’t have much work, but he made a couple of great point-blank saves that were the result of a couple of bad turnovers. There was some bad news in the period though. Christian Ehrhoff had a shot deflect into his face by Matt Ellis and he had to leave the ice, but he would come back.

2nd Period: Stafford opened up the period with a bang. He loudly stood up the Nashville defenseman, Klein at the Sabres blue-line to spring his other linemates for a rush. Luke Adam took a penalty about two minutes in the give Nashville a power play. They couldn’t put the puck in the net and they only had one decent chance for themselves, so no harm was done. Finley showed good speed and recovery skills, beating out the Nashville forechecker after Finley had his shot blocked. Shortly after that, Smithson hooked Pominville to prevent him from carrying the puck into the Nashville zone to give Buffalo their second power play of the game. The Sabres actually had very good movement during this chance, but they wouldn’t score at all. Kassian and McNabb both ran into each other around the 11-minute mark to give Nashville an odd-man rush, but thanks to some good positioning and a little help from the post, they couldn’t put the puck past Miller.

By far, the biggest story of the game happened with only a few minutes left in the 2nd. Jordin Tootoo jump into Ryan Miller which resulted in a line scrum and Miller punching Tootoo multiple times. Gaustad also made a point of pointing at Lindback telling him that he’s coming for him. Tootoo got a 5-minute major and game misconduct. If he doesn’t get suspended than this league’s a bigger joke in the discipline department than I thought. As result of all that, the teams skated 4-on-4. Ennis and Kassian had a 2-on-0 break and Lindback came out to challenge Ennis and whiffed, leaving a wide-open net, but Ennis didn’t shoot right away, nor did he pass, so the Nashville players were able to block the open goal to make the 2-0 score stand up through two periods.

3rd Period: Buffalo started the period with an abbreviated power play that only lasted 45 seconds. Nothing came of it though and almost right after that, Stafford took a hooking penalty to give Nashville a power play. They had some good chances, but couldn’t score. Hecht, Pominville, and Stafford had a 3-on-1 as the penalty expired, but the shot got flubbed. Ryan Miller got some revenge and robbed Jordan Tootoo who had a wide-open net by picking the shot out of the air while he was falling down. Stafford took another penalty a little while after that and this time it cost the Sabres a goal. Craig Smith found some space at the top of the circle and ripped a one-timer past Miller to cut the Sabres lead to one goal.

Nashville really picked things up at even-strength after that, but Miller was up to the task of shutting the Preds down. During one chance, Ehrhoff dragged down Holmquist for trying to get at Miller. Both got penalties, so there was another 4-on-4.  No scoring took place during that time though. With about four minutes left, Tyler Ennis took the pass from Derek Roy and shot a laser through Lindback to make it 3-1. Roy wasn’t good in this game at all, but his forecheck set what ended up being the game-winning goal up. The Preds pulled their goalie with a little over two minutes left and they would cut the lead to one goal again, courtesy of a David Legwand shot in the slot that beat Miller glove-side. I really don’t know how he ended up that wide-open on the play. Fortunately for the Sabres, the Preds didn’t score anymore in the game. Some more bad news in this game though. Paul Gaustad exited the game with an upper-body injury.

Time for the quick-hits:

-Despite what the shot total would indicate, I didn’t think Buffalo got outplayed the whole game. It was a pretty evenly-matched contest until the 3rd period where Nashville took over.

-The response on Tootoo was the one that was needed against Boston. Props for doing the right thing this time guys! I wonder if he’ll try the Lucic approach and try to tell Shanny that he didn’t mean to do it. What a farce…

-Nashville’s 3rd and 4th lines were definitely ripe for the picking and the Adam-Leino-Kassian line was up to the task. Fantastic game by all three of them

-The ‘Hoff was logging big minutes as usual, but tonight, he got mean. I like it. I think he’s co-team MVP at this point along with Vanek and Pominville.

-Ryan Miller was spectacular in goal. Not much he could on the two goals that the Preds scored, but he made some great saves and kept his team in the game in the 3rd period.

-Gragnani had his best game on defense tonight. He broke up a 2-on-1, engaged forecheckers, and he didn’t look lost in his own end. More of that please and I’ll stop complaining about you. I promise.

-Roy and Stafford were still a mess. At least Roy redeemed himself with that pass and forecheck. Stafford took dumb penalties and missed a wide-open net.

-Finley barely played, but he looked better tonight than last night.

-Zack Kassian is here to stay. That is all.

-Speaking of missing wide-open nets, that was the only beef I had with Ennis. Unlike his other two linemates, he was skating hard and creating chances out there. Glad to see him finally get his first goal and first point of the year.

Scoring Per Period

1

2

3

Total

Buffalo

2

0

1

3

Nashville

0

0

2

2

Shots On Goal

1

2

3

Total

Buffalo

7

3

4

14

Nashville

8

9

17

34

Team Stats

Hits

Giveaways

Takeaways

Faceoffs Won

PIM

Buffalo

12

8

5

18

22

Nashville

13

10

10

32

21

Scoring Summary:

Buffalo- Adam (Leino, Ehrhoff), Kassian (Adam, Leino), Ennis (Roy)

Nashville-  Smith PP (Legwand, Wilson), Legwand (Josi, Blum)

Power Play:

Buffalo: 0-for-4

Nashville: 1-for-3

Game Scoresheet

Lindy Ruff Postgame Interview: play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=5583187

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