Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) - The Buffalo Sabres returned to the ice on Monday night, as they continued a four-game homestand against the Philadelphia Flyers at KeyBank Center.
It was a rough start in the first period for the Sabres. The Flyers scored three goals in the period and controlled much of the play. The goals came from Zach MacEwen, Joel Farabee, and Noah Cates.
The second period was much different than the first in many ways. There were no goals scored by either team, but the Sabres did seem to turn a corner offensively.
The third period saw more chances for the Sabres, but still no goals.
The Flyers capped off the game with a fourth tally, this time from Wade Allison. Flyers goaltender Samuel Ersson earned his first career shutout, making 28 saves in the process.
The Sabres were very unlucky throughout the entire game with bad bounces on either side of the puck that helped lead to the loss.
Here are three observations from this game:
1.) More discipline
The Sabres have been taking penalties at an alarming rate over their recent stretch of games. Buffalo has gone shorthanded 16 times in their last five games against some of the NHL's best power play units, with teams like the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild in that mix.
While the team killed off 11 of those 16 penalties, conceding that many in such a short span of time isn't a good thing for the team's chances of winning. The Sabres' penalty kill is ranked 26th in the league at only a 73% success rate.
Buffalo needs to focus on staying out of the box more, especially over the next two weeks leading up to the All-Star break. The Sabres have been the highest scoring team in the league, but can only do that effectively if they aren't shorthanded all the time.
2.) Sloppy defending
While all four goals Monday night could've been easily stopped, the shots shouldn't have even made it to the net. Three of the four goals were right in front of goalie Craig Anderson with a Sabres defenseman within a stick length of a goal scorer.
The Sabres' defensive corps looked lost in their own zone, at times, this game ,and were very easily pushed around in front of the net. Had the team been more lively in their own end, it could've been a much closer game.
With that said, the defensemen have been very solid for the team in this past stretch of wins. Every team gets fatigued in the NHL, it's a long season. The young blue line needs to shake this game off and move on to the next one.
3.) Frustrating loss
Simply put, this was one of the most frustrating losses of the season. This was the first game of the year the Sabres were shut out, along with the fact the undefeated streak in the popular black and red "goathead" jerseys has now come to an end.
Between shots off the post, unlucky bounces in front of the net, and big saves from a young goaltender on a hot streak, the Sabres just couldn't get anything going.
As mentioned before, the team has a grueling stretch of games ahead of them in the next two weeks that will be very important in the playoff race the Sabres are currently in. With divisional opponents, Wild Card rivals, and league leading West coast opponents all soon to come, this will be a tough test for this young team.
One thing that has been apparent this season is the team rallies around each other. If the team leaders can keep their heads, the rest of the locker room will too.
The Sabres are right back in action Tuesday night against the Seattle Kraken for the second and final time this season. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. EST with pregame coverage starting at 6 p.m. EST with Schopp and the Bulldog on the radio home of the Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.