The Sabres started off the regular season in a huge way, with a decisive 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. In what was technically a home game for the Sabres, it was for the Ducks that the host crowd cheered, but Buffalo did not falter in silencing that.
It was a character win for a Sabres team far, far from home. Things I liked about this game:
- Ville Leino scored in his debut with Buffalo. It’s a long 81 game road from here (and hopefully at least 16 extra games) but it was good to see him score a clutch, and very difficult goal to get himself on the NHL score sheet quickly.
- Thomas Vanek. The Mighty Alternate scored two goals, each on the power play, and was an unstoppable force on the ice. Well, that’s not exactly true. He had a whopping 9 shots, so he was stopped 7 times.
- The Sabres were outshot 11-0 in the third period, which seems pretty terrible, except for the fact that Ryan Miller stood his ground and let nothing by. Buffalo also was able to kindly kill a 5 on 3 in that trying frame.
- Vanek and Adam on the same line. I expect to see this a lot more this season, and to see their names next to each other on goal citations on the score sheet as a result. This could bode very well for the center position quandry in Pegulaville.
- Before Anaheim scored in the 2nd period to make it 2-1, the Sabres had been wholly dominant. The Ducks were surging back. Jason Pominville, the new captain of the Blue and Gold, did what a captain does best – he showed how to put a team back down by scoring a goal just 1 minute and 13 seconds later. 3-1 Buffalo at that point. Game effectually over.
- The Buffalo PP was 2 for 3 for a 67% conversion rate. That’s a great percentage. Sure, it’s just been on game, but in that one game that PP was a smooth, deadly assassin.
- The Buffalo PK was 100% for the night, killing off a total of 4 Ducks power plays (including that 5 on 3 mentioned above).
- It would seem Robyn Regehr had a quiet night on the stat sheet, until you look at the hits column. He lead the team with 5 hits.
- The Sabres’ other big addition on D, Christian Ehrhoff, managed an assist in his debut while also leading the team in blocked shots (3).
- The Sabres’ leader on ice time for the night? Jordan Leopold, with 24:45 overall, spent a lot of time out there proving that this squad has the defensive depth to give Myers, Ehrhoff and Regehr time to rest their engines.
- Buffalo found the bounces – the way a winner does. Vanek’s second goal came off a strange bounce in front of the net as he wrestled and twisted with a defender around the puck. A bounce? Yes. The result of good work in the blue paint? Yes. Meanwhile, Anaheim found a way to hit the post – twice – in what could have been their 3rd period rally.
Next up, it’s the Los Angeles Kings in a battle of the 1-0-0 undefeateds. 2pm EST. Pucktoberfest at the FN Center for the game on the big screens.
*Stats from Yahoo! sports.
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