Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – For 40 minutes on Tuesday night, the Buffalo Sabres played a much better game against the Seattle Kraken than they ever had before. However, it still wasn’t enough, as Buffalo lost, 4-3.
Sabres head coach Don Granato blamed the team missing some golden opportunities to score - he’s not wrong - but I think it was horrendous defensive zone coverage that led to three Seattle goals.
The Kraken are one of the best teams in the NHL at making the other team turn the puck over, and the Sabres did very well in that department. In the first period, they limited Seattle to almost no scoring chances, as the shots were 2-0, Seattle, 7:52 into the game.
Eric Comrie was forced into playing because Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen came down with the flu Tuesday morning. Comrie’s first save was a huge one when he got across to rob Jared McCann on a one-timer.
I think Buffalo did the right thing to start off trying to limit Seattle and not give them any freebees, which, of course, slowed themselves down in the offensive zone.
On the Kraken’s second goal, which tied the game at 2-2 in the second period, Kale Clague allowed Justin Schultz to get around him and head to the net. Ilya Lyubushkin did a very poor job with Yanni Gourde, who was crashing the net and ended up scoring.
On the third goal, Vince Dunn hit the post, but Matty Beniers was allowed to stand next to Comrie and easily tap in the puck just laying there.
The game-winning goal was complete unawareness, and all five Sabres got caught puck-watching Beniers behind the net. That allowed Schultz to come in from the point unnoticed and rip one from less than 10 feet away.
Missed chances? Yes.
Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner both hit power play posts off of one-timers. Vinnie Hinostroza missed a breakaway. Skinner was totally open to the left of Philipp Grubauer, who was down and out, but somehow, Skinner’s stick got goofed up and he wasn’t able to get the puck over the fallen goalie.
The Sabres just seemed a little off, at times. There were a couple of plays where Thompson started working his stickhandling magic and at the last second, the puck rolled off his stick.
The player that did convert for the Sabres was Alex Tuch.
In the first period, Thompson used every inch of his reach to send a perfect backhand pass to Tuch for the layup. Then with 22 seconds left, the winger converted a Rasmus Dahlin rebound for his 20th goal in 39 games. That already ties a career high for the 26-year-old.
There are two things that have contributed to the Sabres trying to chase numerous teams to get into the playoffs. Of course, there was the eight-game losing streak where they didn’t even get any loser points, and they’re 9-10-2 at home, which is a lot of missed opportunities.
Despite two losses, the team is still 13-6-2 in its last 21 games.
Mattias Samuelsson didn’t play the final 7:39 of the game, but there was no update on him afterwards.
The Winnipeg Jets lost in Detroit on Tuesday, 7-5, and are in Buffalo on Thursday. The Jets had come into that game with five-straight wins, including four on home ice.