The Sabres leave Sweden with no points

Buffalo's losing streak has now reached five consecutive games

Paul Hamilton
November 09, 2019 - 5:09 pm

Photo courtesy of @BuffaloSabres (Bill Wippert)

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(WGR 550) - The Sabres came out flying in Game 2 of the NHL Global Series in Sweden, but, once again, let a slumping goalie gain his confidence.

Curtis McElhinney came in with a 3.93 goals-against average and .899 save percentage. The Sabres came out 5-on-5 and were all over the Lightning until Tampa Bay got a late first period power play.

Buffalo could only manage one goal on 17 first period shots, and had 12 shots alone in the first seven minutes of the game. They had quality, Grade-A chances, but they’re back to what has plague them for years - many are out on the perimeter and not making life difficult on goalies.

Buffalo did have a one-goal lead until Brandon Montour took a feel-good penalty by punching Tyler Johnson in the face. Yes, Johnson did push him first, but you have a one-goal lead and the momentum against a good team.

The Sabres' penalty killing is killing them right now. They always lose the faceoff and never get the puck back to send it down the ice to relieve the pressure. Pat Maroon was left out in front of the net, and a shot from Yanni Gourde hit Colin Miller and then Maroon to tie the game.

The Sabres fell behind by two in the second period and had 30 total shots on McElhinney, but still only one goal.

Jack Eichel had an unbelievable chance when the game was still 1-1. He was setup alone in front. One of his teammates was closer to him than any Tampa Bay player. Eichel was stopped by McElhinney on the first shot and got the rebound with only defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the crease, and McDonagh stopped that one.

I don’t mean to be harsh, but your best player just has to come through in that situation.

The last goal of the second period with three-seconds left is inexcusable. It was like the Sabres had already checked out of the period. Off the faceoff, Maroon and Gourde both went to the net. They were left to both take swipes at the puck lying next to Carter Hutton, and Maroon popped it home. Where was everybody? Why were two Lightning players at the net with no Sabres in sight?

Ralph Krueger should show his forwards this goal on continuous loop so they can see what happens when you’re around the net.

Gourde got a third period goal when Marcus Johansson won a draw, but Casey Mittelstadt over-skated to puck in the circle, leaving it for Gourde to shoot. Just 1:07 later, Rasmus Dahlin gives the puck away and Montour skates through the crease, leaving Mathieu Joseph to score.

Tampa Bay has been slumping for most of this season and came to Sweden with three losses in four games, but Buffalo helped them look like the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning again.

For much of this game, the Sabres can be proud of their 5-on-5 play. They had possession and had glorious chances. There was a lot of effort and it showed, but it’s the attention to detail that failed them. Too many people left in front of their net, not enough bodies in front of the enemy net, and they lose too many faceoffs, which denies them possession.

All that has led to five straight losses and six losses in seven games.

Buffalo comes home with an overall record of 9-6-2, but I’ll be very interested to see if Ralph Krueger can do what other coaches have not been able to do - get this team's attention back.

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