The Sabres get three out of four points against Toronto

John Tavares beat Buffalo with his goal in overtime

Paul Hamilton
November 30, 2019 - 10:55 pm
Carter Hutton

Photo: Dan Hamilton - USA TODAY Sports


(WGR 550) - The Sabres pulled up their boot straps and played two really good games against Toronto this weekend, taking three of four points.

Buffalo won its home game 6-4, while the Maple Leafs took the rematch in Toronto, 2-1 in overtime.

I really liked Buffalo’s game on Saturday. Buffalo went into the third period down 1-0 and finally tied it when Jack Eichel hustled all around the offensive zone and Rasmus Ristolainen took a puck from the right point all the way to the net to convert his own rebound against Freddie Andersen, who absolutely stole this game for his team. Ristolainen played very well, partly because with seven defensemen dressed, No. 55 only played 19:17.

Buffalo kept coming at Andersen, but Sam Reinhart’s tip hit the joint that joins the crossbar and post. It was Reinhart’s second post of the game.

John Tavares won the game with a wicked wrist shot from almost the blue line that wasn’t tipped and wasn’t screened. It hit Carter Hutton’s glove and went in. It really was a shame because Hutton was great during this game, making 41 saves. With about 24 seconds left in regulation, he absolutely robbed Andreas Johnsson coming across with a pad save.

With just 12 seconds left, Hutton got a piece of Auston Matthews shot, but it got through him and was slowly heading to the net. Marco Scandella got back and swooped the puck out to preserve a point.

Hutton came into the game really struggling, but other big saves came on Kasperi Kapanen walking right in, a power play one-timer from the left circle by Tyson Barrie, and early in the second, Hutton was strong on Frederik Gauthier’s rebound try.

The first goal scored on Hutton came on the power play, Will Nylander was allowed to come in front from the corner. His shot ramped up Hutton’s stick and under the crossbar, there is absolutely nothing Hutton could do on that one, but the overtime goal must be stopped.

Andersen absolutely robbed Conor Sheary, who was setup by Jeff Skinner. Sheary one-timed the puck immediately right into Andersen’s glove. Nobody thought anything of it until league headquarters called to review the play. Andersen’s glove was in the net and you could see part of the puck through the webbing of the glove, but the NHL knows its own rules. The league said, "Video Review determined that there was no conclusive evidence that the puck, which was in Andersen’s glove had completely crossed the goal line. Therefore, the Referee’s call on the ice stands."

In overtime, the game never should’ve even gotten to Hutton. Victor Olofsson found himself alone in front of Andersen not once, but twice and was robbed both times. Olofsson hit a crossbar of his own in the second period.

Skinner was furious with himself in the second when he had a lot of net looking at him on a backhand shot, but he put it right in Andersen’s glove. Toronto outshot Buffalo 43-30, but in my mind, the Sabres had the better chances.

Eichel had an assist and now has points in nine straight games, scoring eight goals and eight assists for 16 points. Eichel has an assist in seven straight games. Other than Andersen, I thought Eichel was the second best player on the ice. He made some plays defensively that the best defensive forwards in the league would’ve been proud of.

Buffalo is now 2-1-2 in its last five games, picking up 6-of-10 points. That’s a big improvement over most of November. The Sabres finish November 3-8-3.

In the Atlantic Division, Florida is in second place with 31 points, Toronto is in third at 30 and Buffalo is in fourth with 29. That leaves the Sabres one point out of a playoff spot. If you want to go by point percentage, the Panthers are at .596, the Lightning are at .563, the Canadiens are at .538, the Sabres are at .537 and the Leafs are at .536.

Buffalo has Sunday off and will host New Jersey on Monday night.

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