The Sabres need to match the game they played in Tampa every night

Buffalo did most things right and took the best team in the NHL to a shootout

Paul Hamilton
February 22, 2019 - 12:53 am

Photo: Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

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Tampa, FL (WGR 550) - The Sabres walked into Tampa and played one of their best games of the season against the league’s No. 1 team. Buffalo lost in a shootout, but absolutely earned it’s point by competing, playing hard, hitting and moving their feet.

They got out-shot 40-30, but their best chances wound up going wide.

Carter Hutton wasn’t supposed to start this game, but an injury in the morning to Linus Ullmark put him in and he had his best game of the season.

Hutton stopped Victor Hedman twice in overtime, including a clear cut breakaway.

Things went well for Hutton right away when he stopped Brayden Point three different times from right in front. Point also hit the post

The NHL’s leading scorer, Nikita Kucherov had eight shots on goal and only converted on one. The goal was because Evan Rodrigues missed a wide open Zach Bogosian in the slot, producing a 2-on-1 the other way.

Hutton’s best save of the night came while killing a penalty. He came diving across on Kucherov, who thought he had scored.

Buffalo’s goal came in the first period when Rasmus Dahlin’s point shot was deflected past Andrei Vasilevskiy by his defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

The Sabres had a lot of zone time, but they missed several Grade-A opportunities. Jeff Skinner was set up by Dahlin early in the second period with a wide open net staring him in the face. Skinner put the puck through the crease and out the other side.

Midway through the first, Buffalo had a power play and Tage Thompson had a great opportunity, but put it over the top of the net.

Jack Eichel missed two great chances when he was allowed to come down the slot alone and when he was sent in alone by Skinner.

These weren’t fluke opportunities at either end. The Sabres skated and competed to get a cycle going.

I think it’s really difficult on fans to see the Sabres come out and play that hard for 65 minutes. Why is it difficult? Because they only play like that a few times per-month.

If we had seen that kind of effort against the Rangers, Devils and Panthers, they would’ve won all three games.

The playoffs are still six points away and if they’re to have any chance at all, most night must be like Thursday in Tampa.

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