Sabres unable to come back from rough first period in Ottawa

Buffalo gave up four goals in just over four minutes of play in a 7-4 loss

Pat Malacaro
February 19, 2020 - 2:40 pm

Photo: Marc DesRosiers - USA TODAY Sports

With an opportunity to grab a fourth straight win and inch even closer to a playoff spot, the Buffalo Sabres faltered on the road, giving up four unanswered first period goals in a 7-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre.

The Sabres started the game with a good jump. Jeff Skinner was very active, despite not scoring, and his line helped create the opening score of the game. He took the initial shot, and then swatted the puck out of mid-air for a second chance opportunity. With Craig Anderson out of position, Brandon Montour pinched down and scored his fourth goal of the season to make it 1-0 Buffalo. The goal came less than three minutes into the game.

Montour, once again, got into the goal column thanks to some nifty passing by the Sabres in the offensive zone. Sam Reinhart started the play by forcing a turnover in the Ottawa end, and it was Victor Olofsson who got the pack back to the blue line for Rasmus Ristolainen. Ristolainen kept it going by sliding the puck to the other side of the ice, and Montour’s snap shot came on the eighth shot of the game for the blue and gold, extending the lead to 2-0 about halfway through the opening period.

Ron Hainsey took the first penalty of the game, but instead of keeping the momentum in Buffalo’s way, it flipped to the home team thanks to a strong penalty kill. The Sabres did not have any sustained chances on the man advantage. In fact, Vladislav Namestnikov was able to score a shorthanded goal on a puck that got through goalie Carter Hutton and cut the Ottawa deficit to 2-1.

Less than two minutes later, Ottawa continued to press the pace and not only tie the game, but take the lead with a pair of goals just nine seconds apart. Artem Anisimov scored first with his 12th of the season that tied the score at 2-2. Off the next faceoff, the Senators were able to take control and Drake Batherson scored on his own rebound to give the team a 3-2 lead over Buffalo.

Anisimov extended the lead to 4-2 thanks to a power play goal late in the opening period. The four Senators goals came in a 3:29 time span.

A strong shift by the energy line early in the middle stanza helped cut Buffalo’s deficit down to a goal. A blocked shot in the defensive zone allowed Johan Larsson and Kyle Okposo to start a 2-on-1 opportunity with Ottawa on a line change. Okposo was pulled down from behind, but was able to get his stick on a Larsson pass to the front of the net and make the deficit 4-3. It was a solid play all around that was started by a Montour block.

After falling behind by two goals again, the blue and gold used their second power play of the night to cut the deficit down to one goal again. This time, it was Olofsson cashing in for his 19th goal of the season after burying a Rasmus Dahlin pass in the net making the score 5-4 Senators. The passing on the man advantage was good and allowed Buffalo to keep control even when Ottawa started to press.

I thought the Sabres were the better of the two teams again to start the third period, but this time they failed to score. The top line of Olofsson-Eichel-Reinhart carried the tempo off the hop, and Larsson-Girgensons-Okposo were the net to keep it up. Montour has been the best Sabre in the game, helping make a big save of a puck that was ticketed for an open side of the net.

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