Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – For the first time in three games, the Buffalo Sabres weren’t ready to play on Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks.
For the first six minutes, Buffalo couldn’t get out of its own end because of the pressure from the Canucks, which produced very poor passing.
Poor coverage lead to a Bo Horvat goal, and the Sabres were behind. Two good hits by Robert Hagg, who had six for the game, and two good shifts by the Thompson and Eakin lines turned the whole thing around.
For the past 10 years, a start like that very often led to the team to playing scared and losing by a lot. This time, they stayed calm and found their game.
Zemgus Girgensons secured a puck at center ice and found a breaking Kyle Okposo down the right wing. Former Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers played Okposo perfectly, but the Sabres winger flicked a wrist shot on the short side over the glove of Thatcher Demko to tie the game at 1-1.
The shots were 5-0 Vancouver, and after that, they were 43-29 Sabres. One of the many reasons the Sabres are a much better team than last year is they’re averaging 3.67 goals per-game and 37.3 shots per-game.
Buffalo really came on hard in the second period, but were still trailing. It took 17:37 to produce the tying goal, but they did it with quick puck movement and a man at the net. Jacob Bryson, Dylan Cozens and Okposo moved the puck quickly with Girgensons in front tipping home his second goal and fourth point in three games.
The Sabres didn’t let up in the third, and two goals in 23 seconds gave Buffalo a quick 4-2 lead.
The first goal came off a shot that hit a Canucks defender and came right to Jeff Skinner in front. He lofted a sweet backhand right under the crossbar for his first of the season.
The next goal was Tage Thompson just standing at the crease, pounding away at Demko until he finally got the puck by him.
Craig Anderson played his second game of the season and had to make quite a few more difficult saves in this game than he did against the Montreal Canadiens. His best save may have come in the first period when Colin Miller coughed the puck up to Justin Dowling, sending him in for a breakaway chance.
Vancouver shows up with great firepower in Horvat, J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Horvat scored, Miller got an assist and the Sabres held the rest of them quiet.
The fans, once again, impressed with their team chanting "three-and-oh" as the clock was winding down.
With Sam Reinhart gone and Jack Eichel waiting to be moved, it was thought that nobody on this team would score. In three games, Girgensons has four points, while Miller, Skinner, Okposo and Victor Olofsson have three points each.
The Sabres join the Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild and Edmonton Oilers as the NHL's only 3-0-0 teams.
The competition is getting better, as Vancouver is better than the Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes. The Boston Bruins are in town on Friday, and they’re quite a bit better than any of those three teams.
Former Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark will get his first start with the Bruins against his former team. Ullmark struggled mightily in the preseason and lost the No. 1 job to Jeremy Swayman.