Game 56: Offense Be Damned

After that nice run the Sabres had, they’ve now dropped two games in a row, both at home. This time, they lost 4-1 to New Jersey. In those two games, Buffalo hasn’t led for one second.

 

1st Period: Regehr would take the game’s first penalty just over a minute into the game after interfering with Ilya Kovalchuk while he was driving towards the Sabres net. Buffalo would successfully kill off the power play and didn’t give them any good scoring chances either. Shortly after that, Ennis drove the net and Brodeur kicked out a rebound for Boyes, but he couldn’t put the puck past him. About six minutes into the period, Miller stoned one-time Sabre, Dainus Zubrus on a good scoring chance for the Devils.

Through the first half of the period, both teams were playing more wide-open hockey than fans are normally accustomed to watching when these two teams play each other. Despite that, no real scoring chances really materialized. It was a lot of back-and-forth, one shot and done kind of stuff. It would take a questionable tripping call on Vanek to break up the scoreless tie. With about 30 seconds left in the period, Kovalchuk would score in a wide-open net after a nice passing play between him and Elias to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead and that’s how it would stay heading into period #2.

2nd Period: The Vanek-Roy-Pominville line got a few rushes into the Devils zone for some scoring opportunities. A lot of it didn’t translate into shots on goal though because they got too fancy with the puck. Bryce Salvador would give the Sabres their first power play of the game about four minutes in after flipping the puck out of play. They looked awful during the whole sequence and Roy would take a tripping penalty on Kovalchuk just as the Buffalo power play had expired. The Sabres would stop the Ilya Kovalchuk show on the power play this time. Seconds after the Roy penalty ran out, Kassian was left all alone in front of Brodeur and got a golden opportunity to score from a pass from the point, but Marty Brodeur stopped him.

After brilliantly playing a 2-on-1, Leopold took a hooking penalty against Zach Parise with just over 9:00 to go. Miller made a couple of great saves right off the get-go. Roy and Pominville actually had a 2-on-1 during the Devils’ power play, but Brodeur made a glove save on the shot taken by Pominville. The Sabres would successfully kill off the Leopold penalty and keep it a one-goal game. Around the 2:30 mark, Buffalo would finally score. Regehr sent the puck down-low to Pominville who fed it to Vanek out in front. Zubrus would accidently redirect the pass into the net to tie the game up, 1-1. Once again, the Sabres would find their way to the penalty box. Ehrhoff tripped up a Devils player behind the play in the neutral to give New Jersey a power play for the remainder of the period. Buffalo kill off the first 1:13 of the penalty, but the Devils would have 47 seconds left to work with to start the 3rd. Weber also got called for cross-checking Zach Parise at the end of the period, so instead of a regular power play, they were going to have a 47 second 2-man advantage.

 

3rd Period: When we last left off, the Sabres were behind the 8-ball to start the 3rd period. Surprisingly enough, Buffalo killed off the 2-man advantage and almost killed off the 2nd penalty. However, with 17 seconds left, a Petr Sykora shot deflected off of Sekera’s stick and up to the corner of the net past Miller to give New Jersey the lead back, 2-1.  Andy Greene would take a stupid tripping penalty against Pominville to give the Sabres a chance to tie the game back up. Vanek had a great chance to score after Zubrus tried to do too much to get the puck out, but Brodeur saved the shot with the shaft of his stick. Patrik Elias closed his hand on the puck and slid the puck out of the zone. No penalty was called on the play.

Sekera had some more bad luck go his way around the halfway point of the period. The puck got caught in his skates and he couldn’t find it, which resulted in him getting his pocket picked. That led to an odd-man rush the other way and Kovalchuk would score on it to make it a 3-1 game. Myers didn’t do a good job tying up his man on the play either. Not much transpired for the next for the next eight minutes until Roy took a tripping penalty. Leino’s hit was the lone highlight for Buffalo during that stretch. No goals were scored on that power play, but the Devils would get a 4th goal on the empty net to make it 4-1 and that’s how the game finished up

Onto the quick-hits:

-I thought Miller was the only the Sabres player who played well.

-Ennis was good early, then he stunk with the rest of them.

-First subpar game for Sekera in a long time. It happens. Not going to get too mad.

-Every game against this Devils team is exactly the same, no matter what players are on the Sabres. It’s like freaking Groundhog Day.

-Four-point night for Kovalchuk. To state the obvious, really good game by him

-Although they took some dumb penalties, (*cough* Mike Weber and Derek Roy *cough*), the officiating was still atrocious. New Jersey was getting away with penalties all night (interference for the most part).

-Why was Vanek playing with Roy? More importantly, why the heck was Leino playing with Paul Gaustad and Pat Kaleta?

 

Game Scoresheet

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