Sabres' continue their Jekyll and Hyde play

February 19, 2018 - 5:02 pm

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - After the fiasco against Los Angeles, the Sabres started off Monday with a simple game and it served them well in the first period.

They engaged the Capitals and didn’t make it easy for them to get out of their zone. For the most part, they played defense as a five-man unit which helped Chad Johnson.

Yes, the Caps did get some opportunities, any team with Alex Ovechkin will. Ovechkin spilt he defense to get to a loose puck in front forcing Chad Johnson into a big save. The play was produced by Ovechkin’s speed, not anything the Sabres did.

Johnson also had to stop Brett Connolly who easily split the defense, but that was it.

One play that showed the Sabres were listening to their coach, was Josh Gorges quickly getting the puck up to Evander Kane. Kane was at full speed and went cross-ice to Jason Pominville who got a shot. It led to a good scoring chance for Ryan O’Reilly who followed the play in. That’s exactly what Phil Housley wants to see.

Buffalo only got outshot 10-7 in the second period, but got overrun. It was all Caps as the Sabres didn’t compete well and turned the puck over.

Right after the Sabres started the period with a power play, Sam Reinhart failed to get a puck out. The Caps started a cycle and next thing you know, Ovechkin makes it 1-0.

Nick Baptiste turns it over leading to a 4-on-2 and Johnson has to make a great save on Christian Djoos.

Jakub Vrana blows by the defense, Johnson with another acrobatic save and then Vrana hits the post on the rebound. I think you get the idea.

The pressure finally produced another goal. The puck was heading for the goal line and it looked like Kyle Okposo had kicked the puck out. Replay showed differently and Washington had another goal.

Buffalo just can never build on a good period. They had chalked up two pretty good periods, and then let themselves get run over in the second period of this game.

Buffalo only had a few scoring chances as the game became very easy for Philipp Grubauer. Marco Scandella hit the post and Rasmus Ristolainen had an excellent offensive play. He followed the play into the zone and got control behind the Washington net. He used his body to shield the puck and came out backwards. He was right on the doorstep, but Grubauer made his best save of the game.

To start the third, they looked like they were moving their feet and had some time in the Washington zone, but the Caps wind up getting a great chance when the defense never closed the gap allowing Lars Eller to walk right in on Johnson.

We got to see what happens when the defense joins the play. Scandella led a four man rush up ice and the Sabres got two chances out of it. They continued to move their feet and drew a slashing penalty.

The Sabres had good pressure on the ensuing power play and had some chances around the crease. That's the intesity they need all the time.

They took that momentum and started using their feet making things more difficult on Grubauer. Considering he didn't have much to do in the second, he looked great under duress. At one point in the third, the shots were 11-4 Sabres and Grubauer was the reason it was still 2-0.

The pressure and time in the offensive zone finally paid off when Scott Wilson came down the slot and found himself with Sabres in front of him screening the goaltender. The shot hit Okposo and the lead was cut in half.

The game winning goal came with the goaltender pulled. It was a careless, no-look behind the back pass inside his own blue line by Rasmus Ristolainen. Evgeny Kuznetsov easily deposited the puck into the empty net. That's the play that makes this team who they are. It's a play that never, ever should be made. It's cusual play like that that accounts for 21 home losses in 29 games.

Evander Kane got a real pretty goal with 3.3 seconds left in the game, but it was too little, too late. Phil Housley liked the effort he got out of Kane in this game. He said, "I thought he worked much harder today, he played with a little more attitude. I like how how played today." Kane said, he woke up grumpy and came to the arena in a pissed off mood.




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