The Sabres can't get over the hump and lose to the Jets

February 10, 2019 - 6:23 pm

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - The Sabres took the play to the Jets in the first period on Sunday. I liked how they were on the Winnipeg defense causing many turnovers. The Johan Larsson line was front and center when it came to forchecking.  

Larsson produced a 2-on-1 for himself just because he stayed with a play.

The other thing I liked is Buffalo came out and initiated the physical play. It didn’t last as the Jets are bigger and stronger, but the Sabres weren’t afraid and went after them.

Carter Hutton was in goal for the first time since being pulled against Chicago and made a really good save on a deflection that he likely didn’t see.

The closest Buffalo came to scoring was off a Jack Eichel draw when Skinner ripped a puck through Connor Hellebuyck, but the big goaltender reached back and got the puck before it slid over the line.

Buffalo had numerous power plays and Hutton stopped the first shorthanded breakaway he faced, but Rasmus Dahlin couldn’t knocked a puck down at the blue line and Andrew Copp grabbed it and went far side for a shorthanded goal. It’s a save that you would hope your goalie could make to bail you out. Other than that, I thought Hutton had a very solid game.

The Sabres got out of sorts for about the next 10 minutes until just after a penalty to Bryan Little. He came out of the box, but Eichel got free in the right circle and went far-side to tie the game. Eichel now has points in five straight games (2-4-6) and points in 8-of-9 games (3-7-10).

Before the second period ended, Jason Pominville had two golden opportunities to give Buffalo the lead, but Hellebuyck made two good saves.

The third period was tight. Both goalies were making the saves that needed to be made, but the Sabres failed to get a puck in deep and lost the game because of it.

Winnipeg got the puck into the zone and just started going on the attacked. They cycled against three Sabres that were on the ice for 1:43 or more. Mark Scheifele ran a pick on Kyle Okposo near the blue line allowing Josh Morrissey to gain the left circle. Dahlin had Blake Wheeler covered, but let him go thinking he should block the pass across. He didn't block the pass and Wheeler had a tap-in for the win. Okposo was on the far side from the bench and couldn’t get off. He spent 1:55 on the ice, but he said he wasn’t tired and there’s no excuse for him not getting the puck out of the zone. He said he was fine and definitely should’ve gotten it out. Matt Hunwick and Dahlin were both caught on the ice for 1:43 on the goal.

I think the Sabres have shown us once again that they just aren’t quite good enough. This was a tough, even hockey game that was there for either team to grab. The better team grabbed it with just 3:55 remaining in the game. Playing well is fine, but Jack Eichel said "How many times can we say, 'Oh, we played well but we didn't get any points.' Other teams are getting points, moving up the standings, we're not."

So Buffalo is 2-2-1 on this seven-game home stand. That is not even close to good enough and it means the best they can do is 9-out-of-14 points. That’s if they beat both the Islanders and the Rangers. The Islanders are a team that’s in first place in the Metropolitan Division and is 9-1-2 lately.

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