The Sabres travelled to the Isle Saturday night to take on the league’s 2nd worst team.  The Sabres managed 43 shots on net but allowed 5 goals including a shorthanded tally on their way to losing the game 5-3. 

Period One:

The oft-injured Rick DiPietro is in net for the Islanders tonight.  Ryan Miller gets the start for Buffalo.  Rick Jeanneret is back in the broadcast booth tonight.  Good to have Rick back; seems like forever since we’ve heard that distinct voice.

Tonight’s Lines:

1) Vanek-Connolly-J Pominville

2) Ennis-Hecht-Stafford

3) Niedermayer-Adam-Grier

4) McCormick-Gerbe-Gaustad

Montador-Leopold, Sekera-Myers, Weber-Morrisonn

Tim Connolly lugs the puck into the zone slides it right to Pominville, quickly back to Connolly who snaps a low shot that’s saved by DiPietro.  Pominville gets the puck and rifles it over the net from the slot.  Paul Gaustad gives 2009 1st overall pick, John Tavares a mean cross-check to the back; no penalty is called.

The Isles have a good cycle going in the Sabres zone.  Michael Grabner gets off a dangerous wrister from the slot and Miller tosses out a shoulder to block it from going in.  Jordan Leopold gets drilled in the corner.  There’s a shot wide on Miller but these end boards are active & the puck bounces right back out front.  Ryan Miller stumbles and there’s a mad scramble before the puck is finally cleared.  Michael Grabner turns on the burners to get around Andrej Sekera and gets off a low wrister that Miller saves. 

Mike Grier is hurt and skates to the bench bent over in pain.  Grier must not be too hurt because he tosses a shoulder into an Islander player just before stepping thru the bench door.  John Tavares authors a give & go across the slot and Miller stones the young gun who shoots a wrister into Miller’s catching glove.  Steve Montador doles out a hit just a bit too late and gets an interference call.  Andrew McDonald unleashes a blast from the point; Ryan Miller climbs way out to the top of the crease as the puck dissappears into his belly.  Martinek lets go another shot from the point and this time there’s a rebound but John Tavares fails to tame the bouncing puck.

Where’s the D?  The Isles’ Blake Comeau has all day with the puck in the slot but shoots it wide of the net on Ryan Miller’s glove side.  200 feet away Tyler Ennis uses all 163 lbs. to drive towards the net on the endline and draws a tripping penalty with 30 seconds left in the period.  Fifteen seconds later Radek Martinek high sticks a Sabre & puts Buffalo on a 5 on 3 for the remainder of the period and the first 1:30 of the next frame.  Period one ends 0-0.

Period Two

Period two started off great for the Sabres as they wasted no time capitalizing on the 2 man advantage.  After nearly giving the puck away at center ice Vanek slices thru the Isles D, loses the puck which falls back to a trailing Tyler Ennis.  Ennis deftly slides the biscuit back down low to Thomas Vanek who tucks it home for the 1-0 lead.

Rick DiPietro is down & out and the puck is free but Luke Adam is tied up in front and can’t get to it.  Tim Connolly gives up the puck in his own zone and the Isles cycle it around until John Tavares sneaks uncovered into the slot kicks the puck to his blade and rifles it up high over the shoulder of Ryan Miller to tie the game at 1 goal a piece.

Tyler Ennis catches Milan Jurcina with an accidental stick blade to the face and there’s lots of blood.  No penalty is called as it probably warranted 4 minutes in the box.  The Sabres must have a short memory because they forgot to cover John Tavares again three minutes after his first goal.  With Rob Niedermayer in the box for high sticking Matt Moulson fakes a shot at the point & passes down low to Tavares who goes around Miller and slides home a backhand for a 2-1 Islanders lead. 

Jordan Leopold finds Cody McCormick in the slot as McCormick shoots a wrister towards the Isles net.  On the other end Ryan Miller stabs a low knuckling slapper from the left face-off circle.  The Sabres sloppy defensive zone play continues as Mike Weber fails to break out of the zone.  Pa Parenteau tips the puck up & over Ryan Miller and starts celebrating before it gets into the net.  Johnny on the spot Tavares is sitting back door and slams the puck into the net to complete the natural hat trick.  (A natural hat trick is when a player scores three consecutive goals in the same game, uninterrupted by any other scoring).  3-1 Islanders.  The Islanders can do no wrong this period. 

Michael Grabner fires a one-timer wide of a gaping net.  Josh Bailey slides the puck to Blake Comeau in the slot.  Miller makes the initial save but the puck goes off his stick and into the net.  4-1 Islanders.  The period ends with a failed Sabres power play as Jeremy Colliton trips up Drew Stafford. 

Period Three:

There’s a phenomenon in the NHL where fans with seats close to the glass in the rinks corners make a spectacle of themselves & take advantage of camera sight lines.  The first time I saw this happening I thought it was funny, but some people just take it way too far.  You’re there to watch a hockey game; and i’m not watching this game so I can see you making a fool of yourself.  Sit the hell down and watch some hockey! 

At tonight’s game on Long Island there’s a 12 year odl kid leaping around like a monkey every time the puck is in his corner.  I am annoyed and I bet the people sitting directly behind this kid can’t be too enthralled.  If you’re going to call attention to yourself do it one time, get your 15 seconds of fame, text your buddies, then sit the F down and watch the game!

With the Sabres on the power play Jordan Leopold shoots purposefully wide and the puck ricochets off the end boards onto the waiting stick of Tyler Ennis.  Ennis wastes no time firing the puck high over a diving DiPietro and cuts the lead to 4-2.

Thomas Vanek with a great solo effort gets past the D skates behind the net, slams on the brakes and passes back out front to Pominville who can’t handle it.  Luke Adam with a spin around shot in the slot.  Tyler Ennis picks up the rebound and celebrates a goal that never happened.  After a review it is determined that the puck never crossed the line.  Tyler Myers picks up a head of steam and chugs across the blue line but the play is called offsides.

The Sabres earn another power play as Josh Bailey takes a hooking penalty.  However the Isles take the Sabres opportunity and make it their own.  Andrej Sekera turns the puck over and Michael Grabner burns down the rink & rips a shot under Miller’s glove for a shorthanded tally.  5-2 Islanders.  After the goal goes in Ryan Miller gets run over by a back-checking Luke Adam.  Miller lays on the ice for a few minutes but shakes off the cobwebs and stays in to finish the game.

Tough guy Trevor Gillies drills Thomas Vanek into the boards and Paul Gaustad is not happy.  The two have a chat through the plexi glass that divides the two benches.  The matter was not settled as the final horn sounds.  Gillies will have a chance to answer for that hit as the two teams meet twice more this upcoming weekend (Friday and Sunday).  While Gillies was busy gooning it up behind the play Hecht & Pominville were busy at the other end scoring a goal.  Too little too late as the game ends 5-3 in the Isles favor.

WGR550 Game recap

NHL.com Game recap

What I liked:

1) Tyler Ennis continues to improve.  I think Ennis has first line talent potential.  his release is lightning fast and so is his skating and stick skills.

2) Jason Pominville assisted on all three of Buffalo’s goals.  He’s stepping up in Roy’s absence.

What I didn’t like:

1) Terrible coverage in the defensive zone.  All of the Islanders goals came when men were left open in the slot.  How can you not cover the man who is closest to the goalie!?!

2) Four goals allowed in a 7:35 span in the 2nd period.  All of those goals were well earned by the Isles, but it’s still unacceptable to allow 4 goals in a period.

3) The Sabres have allowed a league high 9 shorthanded goals.  Not only does the power play stink, they’re actually giving up goals.  The shorthanded goal put the Isles up 5-2 and the game out of reach.  If the Sabres score on that power play instead of giving up a goal the game could have ended 4-4 instead of 5-3.

4) Losing to one of the worst teams in the league?  This is just sad.  The Sabres have beaten good teams this year, but if they want any shot at the playoffs, they have to get points out of games against the NHL’s cellar dwellers.

The Sabres are now in 11th place in the Eastern Conference; 8 points behind Atlanta for the 8th spot.  Vancouver leads the NHL with 64 points, 2 points ahead of Detroit.  The Philadelphia Flyers lead the Eastern Conference 4 points ahead of Tampa Bay.

Vancouver’s Sedin brothers are not only identical twins they maintain eerily similar statistics.  Daniel is the goal scorer while Henrik racks up assists.  Daniel currently has 58 points to Henrik’s 55.  Those numbers are good for 3rd and 5th among the NHL’s point leaders.  Sid the Kid leads the NHL with 66 points (32 goals & 34 assists). 

Next Game: Tuesday, Montreal Canadiens @ HSBC Arena 7:30 pm