Game 80: There Are No Words

During the course of 63 minutes, the Sabres put their fans through every single emotion imaginable. When all seemed loss, Buffalo struck back to tie the game late and win the game in OT, 6-5, keeping their playoff hopes alive with the Caps being idle tonight.

 

1st Period: Just a FYI. Boyes was a healthy scratch for Gerbe tonight. Foligno got things started with a bang, literally. He absolutely crushed Carl Gunnarsson behind the Leafs’ net. Shortly after that, Miller made a great save on Jay Rosehill after Sekera and Sulzer got crossed up a bit. Vanek would crank a shot of the pipe, almost catching Ben Scrivens out of the net. All of this took place within the first two minutes of the game.

About five minutes into the period, McNabb would crush Matthew Lombardi and would have to fight Jay Rosehill for his trouble. Personally, I think Rosehill should have been thrown out, but he only got the five-minute major. Despite the Sabres having the momentum, Toronto would score first. Phil Kessel would take an innocent looking shot from the left-wing which eventually made it’s way out front to Tyler Bozak after the rebound and he made it 1-0.

Foligno would make yet another big hit, this time on Tyler Bozak. He would get penalized for it for some reason though. Foligno did scrap with Matt Frattin before heading to the penalty box and won decidedly. Pominville had the best scoring chance for either team during that sequence. He had a partial breakaway and missed on the slap shot. Dion Phaneuf slashed Pominville just as he was finished taking the shot. Buffalo would kill off the penalty with very little trouble. A few minutes later, the Leafs had a 2-on-1 and hit the post.

They would connect a little while later off a terrible turnover by Ennis. After he gave it up via a bad pass up the middle, Toronto setup a tic-tac-toe passing play that ended with Tyler Bozak getting his 2nd goal of the game to make it 2-0. Matt Fratin would give Toronto a three-goal lead after the forwards got caught cheating up ice with 2:33 to go. The 3-0 score would stand up heading into the 2nd. Buffalo dominated the period as far as physical play went. Toronto destroyed them offensively though, capitalizing off of bad turnovers and positioning while Buffalo generated three scoring chances at the most.

 

2nd Period: The Sabres had some decent jump to start of the period. They didn’t have much offense to show for it though. Joey Crabb would take a tripping penalty about three minutes into the period to give Buffalo their first power play. Ennis would get his team on the scoresheet, thanks to a nice feed from Sulzer to make it 3-1. Joe Cobourne, fresh from the minors bumped Miller in his crease and got called for interference to send the Sabres back to the power play. They had a couple of decent chances, but ultimately couldn’t score this time.

Scrivens got caught out of his net again after he misplayed the puck. He gave it away to Pominville, but got back in time to make the save with 10:32 to go. Sulzer would cut the lead to one after the TV timeout. Sulzer got the puck at the top of the circle and shot the puck past Scrivens through a screen to make it 3-2. Once again, Scrivens had another adventure out of his net and almost got scored on by Foligno.

Buffalo really built some major momentum off those goals and just started dominating the Leafs in terms of offensive possession. There was one shift where the Sabres just straight-up murdered Toronto and had at least three different scoring chances. Unfortunately, Toronto would survive without giving up the tying goal. Kessel almost broke up that momentum after a nice give-and-go. Miller was up to the task and stopped him. Sekera blew-up Matt Frattin around the 1:30 mark. The Sabres would get a few more scoring chances, but couldn’t score. It remained 3-2 Toronto, but the Leafs were definitely on their heels going into period #3.

 

3rd Period: Sekera had a good chance from the point on the team’s first shift, but snapped his stick after a one-timerattempt, leaving Regehr to essentially take on Phil Kessel by himself, even though it was a 1-on-2. Regehr stopped him though. Clarke MacArthur would take a pass in front of the net and put the puck in. Sulzer got worked over pretty badly by him allowing MacArthur to get into position to score. Vanek would get tripped up almost right after the goal was scored. On the power play, Roy took a shot through some bodies that got by Scrivens to cut the Leafs’ lead back to a goal. Vanek played a huge role in that goal even though he didn’t get a point.

Buffalo continued to outwork and out-chance the Leafs. That didn’t matter though as Toronto would get their 5th goal anyway. Jake Gardiner carried the puck and just circled the zone and worked his way into the slot-area and scored to make it 5-3. Matt Frattin would high-stick Roy in the neutral zone to put the Sabres back on the power play with 7:20 left. Nothing came of the chance. However, there was a residual effect. Buffalo would keep the puck in the zone and get it to the front of the net where a scrum ensued. Sulzer managed to whack the puck in to once again, cut the Leafs’ lead to a goal.

With 1:53 to go, massive pile of bodies were laying in front of Scrivens as the Sabres fought for the puck. Eventually, Leopold would put the puck by Scrivens. I thought for sure they’d blow the whistle. Anyways, the game would go to overtime.

 

Overtime: After a drive to the net by Ennis, Dion Phaneuf would stop the play and put the puck out of play, giving the Sabres a 4-on-3 power play with just over three minutes to go. After some lackluster power play tactics, Buffalo finally started moving the Toronto PKers around and was rewarded with the game-winning goal. A shot by Vanek got kicked out to Roy and he finished the Leafs off.

 

Quick-hits:

-Foligno was a monster. This is what we expected from Kassian, but rarely saw, save for a shift or two.

-Has anyone ever had as bi-polar of a game as Sulzer? He had three points, but finished up even thanks to some shoddy work on defense.

-Sekera was pretty bad. Thankfully, he settled down in the 2nd half of the game.

-Glad this team clicked on the power play against a horrible penalty killing team like Toronto.

-Not sure why Lindy wasn’t screaming his head off on the bench like everyone else on Sulzer’s 2nd goal.

-Why did this team have to be so bad in the 1st period and give everyone one of us Sabres fans heart attacks? Not sure how much more of this I can take, haha.

 

Game Scoresheet

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