Game 66: Ending The Road Trip With a Whimper

Coming into tonight, Buffalo had won three straight against Anaheim, Vancouver, and San Jose. That streak got snapped tonight on the final game of the five-game road trip in Winnipeg. The Sabres never really looked right all game long and lost in decisive fashion, 3-1.


1st Period: The unit of Gerbe-Leino-Kaleta and Ehrhoff-Weber struggled in the opening shift. Winnipeg had them hemmed in their own end. They didn’t get any goals or scoring chances on that shift. The onslaught continued through the first five minutes. Leopold made a horrible giveaway to Evander Kane who walked in all alone on Miller. Once again, Miller stood tall and made a great save to keep the game scoreless with just under 15 minutes to go in the period. Buffalo put together a couple of decent shifts to help slow the tide and even up the momentum after that. That trend continued for a few minutes and then the Sabres started to slowly take over the period with about nine minutes to go. No goals were scored though.

Winnipeg would regain control of the game by catching a break. Hodgson failed to get the puck into the Jets’ zone and turned the puck over. On the insuing rush, Miller gave up a big rebound on the initial shot and Andrew Ladd would put it into the net to give Winnipeg a 1-0 lead with 6:15 left in the first. The Sabres had a handful of solid shifts after that, but weren’t generating any good scoring chances during the rest of the period. Ennis and Stafford did have a 2-on-1 with time winding down, but apparently, Ennis didn’t know how much time was left and played with the puck for too long. It would remain 1-0 going into the 2nd.


2nd Period: Buffalo seemed to have a little more jump to start of this period with. The Hodgson line generated a couple of shots in their first shift of the period. That early buzz drastically changed though. The Sabres were getting outskated and were giving the puck away from crazy after that shift. Jim Slater boarded Weber with 14:02 left in the second to give Buffalo a chance to actually generate some offense. Of course, that didn’t happen because their power play has been awful for a long time now. They would get another crack at it shortly after their first opportunity expired. Andrew Ladd took a hooking penalty on Kaleta. The first half of the chance was awful, but the unit of Ennis-Hodgson-Stafford, Leopold-Myers did a great job creating chances. The Sabres (especially Ennis) couldn’t finish though and still found themselves trailing, 1-0. Winnipeg continued their desperate play and kept their foot on Buffalo’s throat.

They would get their first power play chance of the game after Myers went in the box after being called for tripping Tanner Glass at the 5:54 mark of the period. The Jets had some good possession, but no real scoring chances to speak, thanks to a good penalty kill by Buffalo. Later on, Stafford set Kaleta up with essentially an open net and missed it wide. The 4th line would open up the scoring for the Sabres with 30 seconds left in the period. Tropp did some excellent work in front of Ondrej Pavelic which allowed Ellis to get a shot on goal that apparently went in off Tropp to tie the game. That’s how it would stay heading towards the third.


3rd Period: The “top line” of Vanek-Roy-Pominville actually had a really good scoring chance to kick things off. Vanek carried the puck in on a 3-on-2 with all sorts of room and nearly had his shot trickle by Ondrej Pavelec. Like last period though, a nice start quickly faded away. Buffalo was holding on for dear life yet again. Miller made some excellent saves to keep his team in it. They finally got burned with about 11:30 left in the period though. The Roy line was in on another 3-on-2 rush and Ehrhoff jumped into the play after Buffalo got into the Winnipeg zone. Unfortunately, they screwed up and Weber lost track of Blake Wheeler who was well behind him. He took a breakaway pass from Bryan Little and beat Miller to give the Jets the lead back, 2-1.  They would extend that lead later on. Chris Thorburn worked over Robyn Regehr and slipped the puck by Miller to make it 3-1. The Jets just continued to pour it on and it took having Miller on the bench for Buffalo to do anything. Roy would take a hooking penalty though and that would be all she wrote.



-Why hasn’t Ruff broken up Vanek-Roy-Pominville yet? They’ve literally done nothing, but turn the puck over in six straight games. There have only been a handful of shifts that this line has actually worked well.

-I thought Ennis skated well, but the lack of finishing puts him in the bad category for me.

-Stafford played really hard all game.

-Interesting tactic by Ruff by not putting Vanek out there at the end of the game. Even more interesting was him putting Roy out there when he was equally as bad. Very mixed message.

-Leopold was awful.

-Myers was one of the lone bright spots. Loved how aggressive and mean he was.

-I should have expected a bit of a let down at the end of this west coast swing. Buffalo had no legs after the 1st half of the game. Still, a 3-1-1 road trip is pretty good. Their next game against the Canes is a must win.

-Enroth needs to start next game. Miller was good, but showed some chinks in his armor tonight. His rebound control wasn’t very good.

-Pierre McGuire is an embarrassment. If you watched any part of the game, you’ll understand why. He talked up the Jets like they were going to be the next dynasty in the league.

-This power play hasn’t been good in six years.


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