Game 48: Not Sure If They’re Going To Win Again

Tonight’s effort was much improved, but ultimately, a couple of stupid mistakes and a lack of finishing early on doomed the Sabres as they went on to fall to the Blues by a score of 4-2. Ryan Miller did play like the Miller of old though in the loss.

1st Period: Buffalo had the game’s first really good scoring chance about a minute and a half in. Gerbe and Kaleta broke into the Blues zone with backcheckers hot on their trail. Gerbe dished the puck off to a streaking Kaleta who could not finish. There was also a Blues’ stick in the passing lane. Overall, not a good decision by Gerbe to pass. Miller had to make a big save pretty early, thanks to a giveaway by Myers near the hash-marks. Gerbe got another scoring chance a couple minutes after that, but he couldn’t put the puck by Jaroslav Halak, who was out of position on the play. Gragnani tripped up David Backes with just over 15 minutes left in the period to give the Blues a power play opportunity. It was abbreviated though because Kevin Shattenkirk took a hooking penalty on Sekera to make it a 4-on-4 for about 30 seconds before the Sabres went to the power play. They did absolutely nothing on their shortened power play though.

Shortly after that, Gerbe got another scoring chance after poking the puck by the Blues’ defenseman on the blueline, but he missed wide on his shot and appeared to get banged up a bit on the play after taking a tumble into the boards. With about a 5:30 left in the period, Roy get tripped and knee’d by Jackman and got a penalty. McCormick jumped in right away and went after Jackman which resulted in a 4-on-4, but at least he stood up for his teammate. The Sabres would draw first blood at the 3:46 mark, courtesy of Mike Weber who scored on a screened Halak; Leino was the one who provided the screen. That lead would stand up through the rest of the period. This was easily the best period of hockey the Sabres played in a few weeks.

2nd Period: After being on their heels for the first couple of minutes, Buffalo tilted the ice a bit and were playing the Blues pretty evenly for the first few minutes. Stafford and Leino had a 2-on-1 chance after a great break-up by Sekera, but Stafford did nothing and just played with the puck. There was a fight between Joe Finley and Ryan Reaves about five minutes in. Unfortunately, Finley lost that bout. The Blues would tie the game up around the 13-minute mark┬ábecause of a shot by B.J. Crombeen. The goal occurred because everyone on the ice for Buffalo got mesmerized by the puck-carrier, David Backes who had a wide-open Crombeen to pass to as a result of that and he buried the puck past Miller who had no chance. Roy had a wide-open net to tap the puck into to give the Sabres the lead back, but he somehow whiffed on the chance. Sekera made another great play on a 2-on-1 to prevent a Blues’ scoring chance after Grags made a horrible play at center ice to give St. Louis the odd-man rush.

The Blues would take the lead after TJ Oshie curled out from behind the net and took a shot that bounced off of Perron, who was screening Miller. There seemed to be some disconnect between Pominville and Myers on the play that helped lead to the shot as well. Both teams traded chances with each other, but there was no more scoring this period, so it was still 2-1 Blues. Overall, I thought the effort-level was about as good as the effort-level in the first. The difference was that Buffalo was significantly more undisciplined in their own end, which cost them.

3rd Period: Pretty bad first half of the period offensively. Miller made a few big saves to help keep his team in it. Any goal would have really put the game out of reach seeing as the Blues haven’t given up a goal in the 3rd in 10 games. Leopold almost tied the game up by hitting the puck in midair. Overall, it looked like St. Louis was content to just defend their lead and not attack much as shown by them only having one shot in the first 12-minutes of the period. The Blues would get a chance to all but put the game away on the power because of a bad hooking penalty by Vanek and they didn’t fail on the attempt. They got traffic in front of Miller right away and Backes put in the puck the rest of the way that was already trickling behind Miller in the crease. Sekera got caught up the ice which allowed for the second chance opportunity to occur. The best hit of the game for the Sabres came about 14 minutes into the 3rd when Weber blew up TJ Oshie. Speaking of Oshie, he got two minor penalties (cross-checking and unsportsmanlike conduct) to give Buffalo a power play for the rest of the game. They couldn’t score on the first minor, but Myers came through during the second minor with a well-placed shot that beat a screened Halak on the shortside. Buffalo pulled the goalie to try and tie the game after that, but David Backes put the puck into the empty net on a clearing attempt to clinch the win for St. Louis.

Here are the quick-hits:

-Ville Leino had a great game tonight and for my money, was the best forward for the Sabres.

-Luke Adam started off playing with Vanek and Pominville while Roy played with Ellis and McCormick. Adam was demoted about halfway through the game and Roy took his spot on that line. Tough break kid.

-Tyler Myers was fighting back tears in his postgame interview. I’m glad to see some genuinely angry/sad about this situation.

-I didn’t think the Sabres would be the team to break the Blues 10-game streak of allowing no goals in the 3rd. Congrats on doing that I guess.

-Hate to see Sekera get caught up ice like he did on the Blues 3rd goal. He was probably the Sabres best player outside of that tonight.

-Props to Mike Weber for his first goal of the year.

-I’d trade pretty much any Sabres player/prospect to get David Backes.

Game Scoresheet