OPINION: Sabres outplayed Blues in St. Louis, but still lose

Buffalo gave up the game-winning goal just 1:23 after tying the game

(WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres played a very good game on Friday in St. Louis, even outplaying the Blues for a majority of the game. However, they still couldn’t get the win, losing 5-3.

Buffalo got excellent goaltending from Dustin Tokarski, and the team worked hard in the third period to tie the game at 3-3.

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After Tage Thompson scored a power play goal against his old team, you could predict what happens next, because it happens all the time with the Sabres.

Just 1:23 after Thompson’s goal, Casey Mittelstadt made a careless pass backwards right to Jordan Kyrou, who led a 2-on-1 rush the other way. Tokarski stopped Kyrou, but Colton Parayko knocked the puck out of the air for the game-winning goal.

Mittelstadt has been back for four games and looks like the player he was before he was sent to the Rochester Americans in 2019. He is just a shell of himself. The injury has to still be bothering him.

After that, Alex Tuch passed the puck right to Brayden Schenn who put the game away into the empty net.

Buffalo did a great job of using its speed in this game, which seemed to complicate things for the Blues. It paid off early in the first when Kyle Okposo pressed Robert Thomas, who turned it over. Dylan Cozens, who played very well in this game, went to the net and scored off a Rasmus Asplund rebound.

The Sabres then gave up a power play goal and a tip-in marker to Kyrou and were down, 2-1.

Early in the second, Okposo was in his office and tipped in a Dahlin puck to tie the game.

However, late in the second while shorthanded, Blue forward Brandon Saad easily went around Jacob Bryson, forcing Tokarski into a fantastic save. The only complaint I would have with Okposo all night came right here. He had no idea Jake Walman had followed the play and left him there to score into the wide-open net.

Buffalo worked so hard in the third and it paid off in the Thompson goal.

“It sucks," Thompson with frustration following the loss. "I thought we played really hard against a good team, and the big thing is they were very opportunistic. A couple of turnovers and a couple of bad plays cost us, but the way we competed and the way we responded, because I don’t think anyone was happy with the way we played in Montreal.”

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Sabres head coach Don Granato talks all the time that the team can’t get wrapped up in the results. It has to be about how they play, learning and experimenting.

That’s OK to a point, but where I disagree is this team is also learning that losing doesn’t matter. This should not have been a game that they lost. They worked hard and deserved a win, but in crunch time, two veterans let them down.

So many players gave it all they had in this game.

Thompson had the goal to tie the game and was great all night. He created offense and had eight shots on goal. Granato saw this line was going, and played them a lot.

Tuch had 22 minutes of work, while Jeff Skinner had 20 minutes of ice-time. Skinner couldn’t score on any of his six shots, and has only scored in one of his last 12 games. He did net four goals in that one game he scored in against the Montreal Canadiens.

Buffalo has now lost five-straight games, but will be back in action on Sunday against the Stars in Dallas. Join Brian Koziol and myself for pregame coverage on WGR starting at 1 p.m. EST.

Photo credit Losi and Gangi
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