They’re not dead, not yet at least.
After allowing another goal in the opening minutes of a hockey game, the Sabres fought back to beat the finely tuned offensive machine that is the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In the first period, Buffalo came out like many expected. Slow, lazy, out of position, turnovers in their own zone, and that was in the first 70 seconds. Fourteen seconds later, the Bolts would strike.
Buffalo had the puck in Tampa Bay’s zone when Tyler Myers took a shot that got knocked down in traffic. Matt Carle would recover the loose puck and immediately send it up to Teddy Purcell. Purcell easily skated into the Sabres zone, and took a hard shot right on Miller that bounced back out in front. Steven Stamkos came flying in, and buried the rebound.
Goal Breakdown: The only breakdown I have on this goal is Tyler Myers stopped moving his feet, and the Sabres were caught yawning. Oh yeah, one more thing: Yet again another Superstar burns Buffalo. It’s beyond a problem and it’s got to be at the top of the drawing board for Darcy Regier. Like I’ve been saying all season, Buffalo doesn’t have a Michael Peca or a Patrice Bergeron. Those two guys are/were fantastic as stopping their opponents highly skilled players. After the first meeting in Boston, Claude Julien decided to put Bergeron on the ice every time Vanek’s line went out. The results? Vanek has not registered a point in the last two meetings against Boston. Oh, and I almost forgot. After those two meetings in three games against the Bruins, Vanek has fell into a slump. His last point was a 5-on-3 power play goal against the Penguins. — If that’s not a good enough example of a Super Star stopper for you, then please, find me a better one.
After Stamkos’ goal, it was all Tampa Bay and to be honest, the Sabres looked like they were in for an ugly loss. That all stopped when the Lightning let the puck slip out of Buffalo’s zone.
Steven Stamkos lost the puck at the blue line, and immediately sprinted after it with Vanek all over him. Stamkos got control of the loose puck in his own zone, and left tapped it back to Hedman. Hedman attempted to clear the puck out of his own zone, but his pass was intercepted beautifully by Pominville at Tampa’s blue line. Vanek saw JP intercept the pass, and immediately headed deep into the Lightning zone. Pominville got the puck to Vanek at the side of the net, he had no shot and elected to clear it through the slot but, no one was there. Sekera recovered Vanek’s pass at the blue line, stepped up, and took a shot right on net. Sekera’s shot deflected behind the net conveniently for Hodgson. CoHo tried banking it off of Garon, but it found Sami Salo’s skate which knocked it in to tie the game at one.
Goal Breakdown: It all starts with Vanek who did a great forechecking job on Stamkos who really isn’t on the ice for his defensive skills. Vanek’s pressure forced Stamkos to give it to Hedman who really had no where to go with it. Hedman panicked, tried clearing it, but Pominville read him the entire way. If you turn the puck over with the Vanek- Hodgson – Pominville line out on the ice, more often than not, they’re going to make you pay. All three members of Buffalo’s top line had big contributions on that goal.
There would be no scoring in the second period, which in Buffalo’s case, is a miracle. Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, and again Tyler Myers, would all receive penalties in a little less than a four minute span giving Tampa Bay a long 5-on-3 power play. Buffalo’s top penalty killer, Ryan Miller, stood on his head as always and bailed the Sabres out of, what could have been, a very ugly scene.
In the third, it would be Buffalo who struck first in the opening minutes of a period.
Teddy Purcell had the puck deep in his own zone with Thomas Vanek all over him. Purcell went around his own net trying to escape Vanek’s pressure, and tried clearing the puck out. Christian Ehrhoff was in perfect position to keep the puck in the offensive zone, and like I said earlier: If you turn the puck over in your own zone with the Hodgson line out on the ice, more often than not, they’re going to make you pay.
Ehrhoff got the puck to Pominville who skated with it momentarily before he cleared it infront, but failed to connect with Vanek. Vanek, however, recovered he loose puck down low, skated around the back of the net, and cleared it through traffic in front. Tyler Myers came down from the point, and blasted the puck home to win the game for Buffalo.
Goal Breakdown: When Pominville had the puck on his stick, he wanted to give it to Vanek across the ice down low, but consciously cleared the puck through the slot instead. Even if JP got the puck to Vanek down low, Vanek would’ve been stripped immediately. Pominville’s decision to clear the puck through the slot area, threw Garon off completely which made him get out of position. Vanek quickly recovered JP’s clearing attempt and wisely threw the puck out front because Garon was so far out of position. Myers cheated in, and had a wide open net to shoot at. This was one of Myers’ worst games this year, and that’s saying something — it’s just funny how he gets the game winner. I guess that’s just how sports work out sometimes.
The Sabres were able to fight off the Lightning, and win their first game with Ron Rolston behind the bench. Not only was it a huge road win, but it gives them some momentum heading into Sunrise, Florida to take on the Panthers.
– Buffalo killed off 6 penalties against one of the best Power Play units in the NHL.
– This was the first win by a Sabres coach not named Lindy Ruff since 1996.
– Buffalo is now 26-9-3 on the road against Tampa Bay and 44-28-5 all time.
– This is the first road win for Buffalo since their 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders on February 9th.
— The Sabres take on the Florida Panthers Thursday night at the BB&T Center. This is the second meeting between the two teams, as Florida came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat Buffalo 4-3 at First Niagara Center. Puck drop set for 7:30.