Sabres fans finally get to see the Golden Knights

The NHL expansion team makes its first ever appearance in Buffalo

Paul Hamilton
March 10, 2018 - 3:02 pm

Photo: Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - The people of Western New York are getting their first look ever at the Vegas Golden Knights. The expansion team has been a truly amazing story leading the Pacific Division by 10 points over San Jose. That is not a typo, 10 points!

Coming into play on Saturday, Vegas was tied with Winnipeg in the overall NHL standings with a points percentage of .679. I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you that I thought this was even remotely possible for Vegas, but here we are. Phil Housley said, “Early in the season they had early success and I think that created early confidence for them. They got terrific goaltending and even when Fleury was out, the other goalies stepped in and played remarkably well and I didn’t know if it was going to last, but obviously it has."

Housley is definitely impressed by the Golden Knights, but he doesn’t seem totally convinced, “They’re number one in the Pacific and there are a lot of guys over there that have a chip on their shoulder and it’s good for the league and it’ll be interesting to see down the stretch how they’re playing.”

The Golden Knights have two former Sabres in Will Carrier and Brayden McNabb. Carrier is currently injured, but has one goal and two assists in 34 games. McNabb has played 62 games and has four goals and nine assists for 13 points.

One of the biggest things I took away from watching Vegas live was they’re always in your face. They are relentless in their pursuit of the puck. Even in the second period when they were outshot 15-7, they were still working.

Buffalo had two power plays in the second period and got three shots, but I saw desperation from the Golden Knights' penalty kill to block shots and shutdown passing lanes.

The Sabres finally took advantage of a 2-on-1 as Benoit Pouliot broke down the left wing side. Justin Bailey, who had been flying all night, put a big-time move on Marc-Andre Fleury and the Sabres took the 1-0 lead.

I've never been a big Fleury fan, but he has been nothing short of fantastic this season. Injuries have slowed him, but he still has played 36 games and coming into the game, he had a sparkling .928 save percentage.

The Sabres got a really bad bounce when Deryk Engelland brought the puck all the way from the right point to behind the net. Marco Scandella did exactly what he was supposed to do, sprawl and prevent the puck from coming out front. The puck hit his leg and the game was tied.

Lehner was absoutely great in the overtime when Vegas broke two players in alone down the slot, but the saves were made. He made three saves in the shootout as Ottawa gave him a little confidence back, but Jacob Josefson was the only Sabre to score while Ryan O'Reilly, Sam Reinhart, Jason Pominville and Benoit Pouliot all missed.

The shots were 34-32 in favor of Vegas, and it was an even game. Housley liked the effort, but didn't think his team had a shot mentality when it needed it. He also thought that the few schmazels right around Fleury, weren't handled with enough fire. He wanted to see his players attack the crease, not stand there and watch.

I thought Bailey skated very well all night long and had two shots and two hits, but he was in on the defense constantly.

I thought Vegas showed, once again, that it's the real deal. Even though the Sabres were getting the better of the play at the time, they stuck with it and create their own break. Fleury was the first star and it was well deserved. Lehner was number two and again, that was dead on too.

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