Game Recap: Power Play Puts Up Four-Spot In Win
It was deja vu early, but despite their defense (or lack thereof) the Sabres’ abundant offense stole a point at the end of regulation and then another in the extra frame. Suddenly the Sabres are on another three-game winning streak and only 1 point behind the division lead.
Talking about Ryan Miller’s play is itself played out, so the stories of the night are the Sabres’ D in the zone doing their best to look like a sieve and the power play scoring four times. There’s also Corey Tropp scoring the first goal of his career, and Cody McCormick doing his best to look like Rob Ray with that scrap with Tanner Glass. An ugly game at times, it was the kind of high-scoring affair the befitted a night featuring the induction of Dale Hawerchuk to the Sabres Hall of Fame (and also Rick Jeanneret, obviously, to deafening cheers).
What worked for the Sabres tonight?
Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville: Vanek’s two goal night and Pominville’s goal and two assists have both scoring dynamos sitting tied for second in the league at 18 points. The offense flows through these two wingers like never before and putting them on the same line and power play unit is giving the opposition fits.
The penalty kill: Despite allowing a PPG tonight and dropping to second, the Sabres are still killing the man-disadvantage at a 92.0% rate and have only allowed four power play goals all season. A hallmark of Lindy Ruff teams, the kill will be their bread and butter.
GGB and GGT lines: It seems like whoever Lindy Ruff puts with Nathan Gerbe and Paul Gaustad does well. Brad Boyes has gotten regular shifts with the pair, with the maligned winger seemingly finding his game, and Corey Tropp scored his first-ever NHL goal playing in Boyes’ spot.
What didn’t work
Tyler Myers and Andrej Sekera: My goodness, it was a tire fire during their shifts tonight. Both skaters were -3 and saw their ice time drastically reduced in the third period due to their overwhelming craptitude. Myers and Sekera are both capable of taking over games with their play, but today they threatened to flush the game down the toilet.
Coverage in the zone: The Sabres were letting the Jets walk all around their zone tonight, which they simply just cannot do. At least three of Winnipeg’s goals came from blown coverage and while sometimes the goalie needs to bail out his skaters, the team cannot keep forcing their goalie to make all the saves always.
The 5-on-3 power play: Yes, the Sabres scored their game-tying goal on a two man advantage, but prior to that moment they looked atrocious in that situation. A 5-on-3 power play is as good as a goal when you’ve got players like Vanek, Pominville, and Roy to play it, and it took them la-di-da’ing through two chances before figuring it out on the third.
Play Of The Night
Jason Pominville’s short-handed goal was a thing of beauty between himself and Paul Gaustad, both of which are two of the Sabres’ best penalty killers. Pominville broke out of the zone with the puck, split the D chasing him with a drop pass to Gaustad, who sent a backhanded spin-o-rama pass back to Pominville. They played the 2-on-1 perfectly and it produced the team’s first shortie of the season.
Goat Of The Night
Tyler Myers successfully kept the puck in the offensive zone in the third period by taking it in the torso, and then…I don’t know. He forgot where he was and what he was doing I think. He skated in a circle and then picked up the puck and skated it out of the zone when he had room to take it up the ice and make a pass to an open teammate. It was an infuriating moment for Sabres fans, and it epitomized the kind of night he was having.