The Buffalo Sabres came out like lions in their game against the Ottawa Senators tonight, but ended up leaving like lambs as they were demolished 6-3.
The Sabres started the first period on fire, pouring nine shots on Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery before Ottawa managed to get their first. Emery stood tall however, and did so through the entire first period as Buffalo outshot Ottawa 19-7. The only real excitement (other than the bombardment of Emery) was when Patrick Eaves hit Pominville with what appeared to be an elbow to the chin. Pommer had a nice hit later in the period to extract his revenge, and all was well with the world. The Sabres failure to score after completely dominating the period would soon come back to haunt them, however.
Early in the second the Sabres got two straight powerplays. After looking horrific on the first one, the Sabres decided to outdo themselves on the second. After a giveaway in the Ottawa zone, Chris Phillps found Dany Heatley with a long pass down the left wing. Heatley went in on Miller, and Campbell swatted the puck. The puck flipped up, and Heatley managed to swat it out of the air past a stunned Ryan Miller, who was actually well-positioned but probably didn’t expect the old swat-it-out-of-midair trick. The shortie gave Ottawa the lead just 4:53 into the second period.
Later in the period the Sabres futility on the powerplay continued. Seconds after another failed powerplay a Kotalik shot from the point got deflected onto the half-wall. Ottawa won the battle for the puck, and Patrick Eaves came away with it in an odd-man rush. Hustling to get back, Derek Roy committed to the free man in the two-on-one, so Eaves dropped the puck back to Meszaros in the slot. Meszaros let it go and Miller made the save, but he was out of position for the rebound and Heatley tapped the dancing puck past him for a 2-0 lead at the 10:12 mark.
As if to add insult to special teams injury, Tom Preissing scored a pretty tap-in powerplay goal from Heatley a mere two minutes later, followed by another Heatley goal on the powerplay when he banked a puck of Teppo Numminen. Heatley’s third of the night at the 16:30 mark gave Ottawa a 4-0 lead, and that was how the period ended. Ottawa outshot the Sabres 17-8 in the second, which almost evened up the shots on the game.
A Paul Gaustad goal early in the third cut it to 4-1 as Gaustad beat Emery on a forehand to the top of the net off a nice pass from Kotalik. But Peter Schaefer scored on a breakaway less than two minutes later to restore the four goal-lead. Just to finish the Sabres off, Ottawa added yet another powerplay goal after a Redding shot was deflected in off Dmitri Kalinin’s stick with 6:45 to go in the game. Afinogenov and Pominville scored meaningless goals later to make the final score 6-3, but the last two periods were undoubtedly all Ottawa.
– Buffalo should be absolutely embarassed by their performance in the second and third periods. This team, for whatever reason, was looking for a reason to pack it in after totally dominating the first period. After Heatley scored his flukey/incredible goal it seemed as if Buffalo just stopped skating. The loose pucks they were getting were suddenly being hauled in by Ottawa, and to add to the embarassment they got beat physically as well.
-After Ottawa’s third goal it was apparent Miller was off his game. Yet even when Ottawa made it 4-0 Miller remained in net. I know that Lindy knows that pulling a goalie is not a punishment, and it certainly appeared that the Sabres needed something to change the momentum. After the fifth Ottawa goal I couldn’t help but think that maybe Biron makes that save (even though he isn’t the best on breakaways) and that maybe the outcome could have been different. Doubtful, I know, as it was a 100-1 chance, but I always think the impossible is possible with this team.
– I don’t think words can properly express how lost the Sabres powerplay is right now. Scott Arniel and his creativity are truly missed.
– Chris Neil’s couple of extra shots on Gaustad after the linesmen were in on their fight will be remembered. Real heavyweights don’t do that; that’s for lightweights like Afinogenov who don’t know the rules. Although the officials did hit him up with an extra ten-minute misconduct, whatever that’s worth.
– BuffaloGeek wrote an alternate wrap-up for me, as he was concerned about my delicate fingers growing tired tonight. I’ll share, but the language isn’t to our usual postgame standards:
Sabres played like shit, Miller was off his game, the Senators punched them in the mouth, the Sabres curled up like a spiritless dog, the power play sucked for the 15th straight game, they scored a few pointless goals at the end of the game, and it’s all (frequent commenter) Trevor’s fault. The end.
Seems like a good enough note to leave on.