The Sabres blow another chance for points, losing two of three on the road

The team now embarks on their 10-day break

Paul Hamilton
January 19, 2019 - 1:21 am

Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin - USA TODAY Sports


Vancouver, BC (WGR 550) - The Sabres played well for most of the first period, yet a few brain cramps put them behind 2-1. Buffalo had out-shot the Canucks 7-0 and Rasmus Ristolainen cut to the net kicking the puck to a wide open Evan Rodrigues, who scored his third goal in three games.

Up to that point, the Sabres had dominated with the puck, as well as zone time. Vladimir Sobotka did pick up his fifth assist in eight games, but he led two odd-man rushes down the ice and couldn’t convert on either of them.

When Vancouver finally got some zone time, it led to Sven Baertschi out-muscling Lawrence Pilut in front and it was tied. The Sabres held the lead for just 3:24.

The Canucks weren’t done when Derrick Pouliot carried the puck up ice. All five Sabres backed off him like he was the next coming of Bobby Orr. Ristolainen backed off him, while both Rodrigues and Jason Pominville let their men go and Baertschi said thank you with a tap-in.

The shots were 10-4, and there’s no way Buffalo should’ve left that period behind, but when the mistakes come, they’re glaring.

The Sabres cranked it up again in the second period and tied the game on a great effort by the Johan Larsson line. Nobody out-works this line in a game and Zemgus Girgensons got the cycle going in the corner to Johan Larsson. Kyle Okposo went strong to the net and beat Thatcher Demko with a backhander.

Right before that goal, Jeff Skinner was robbed on the power play by Demko in front.

Pilut had been on the ice for all four goals scored in this game, but it was the third one that stung. Pilut made a blind backhand pass in front that was grabbed by Bo Horvat. He found a wide-open Brock Boeser for a layup and Buffalo trailed again.

The Sabres were skating well enough in this game that they were able to keep coming back. As the Sabres were changing, Conor Sheary came on the ice and Sam Reinhart snuck behind the defense. The Canucks didn’t notice him at all, but Sheary found him. Reinhart waited and put a sweet backhand in to tie the game. That had to be an exciting goal for Reinhart since he’s from Vancouver.

Buffalo was still going well in the third when Demko made two huge stops on Rodrigues and Sobotka. The Sabres needed that goal because two more Sabres played spectator and it cost them. Reinhart and Marco Scandella just stood there as Loui Eriksson got between them and Buffalo was behind again. It was just another example of how the Sabres make huge errors that wind up in their net.

Pilut’s woes continued in the third period. He had a puck bounce off his skate right to Josh Leivo giving him a breakaway. Ullmark challenged him and made a huge save.

On a third period power play, Jack Eichel made a beautiful pass to Rasmus Dahlin, setting him up for an open one-timer from the right circle. It was an absolute blast, but Demko read it.

Buffalo finished with pressure, but it’s hard to win, even if you dominate with the huge errors that cost them.

The Sabres needed to go home with four points out of the six, but they only went home with two. That is totally unacceptable, especially since the win came in the hardest place to win in Calgary.

The Sabres now have their five-day bye week, as well as the three-day All-Star break. Their next practice isn’t until Sunday Jan. 27. They had better be refreshed because when they get back, they’re going to be farther out of the playoff race than they are now.

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