Buffalo Takes Three Points from Washington, Ready to Welcome Lafrenière and the Rangers

After starting a disappointing 1-3, Buffalo headed to Washington to take on the Capitals for their second series matchup this season. That saying “Same Ole Sabres” had already begun to creep up on #SabresTwitter amongst the fanbase. Buffalo, who split their two-game series with Philadelphia, has had trouble staying consistent with putting the puck in the back of the net. After Carter Hutton helped secure Buffalo’s first win of the season with 21 saves in a 6-1 shellacking of the Flyers, the Sabres failed to find the back of the net the following night, losing 3-0. Buffalo would also lose goalie Carter Hutton to a head injury after a scary incident that saw his head collide with the post.

Buffalo needed to get her groove back, and luckily for them, four key players for the Capitals would be suspended for four games for breaking league COVID-19 protocols. Team Captain Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, and goaltender Ilya Samsonov gathered together in a hotel room unmasked, which went against the league protocol and would lead to their four-game suspension. According to Head Coach Peter Laviolette, there was also a positive test result. The punishment handed down by the NHL would be a $100,000 fine.

Buffalo, who hoped to get back to a .500 record, would again be stonewalled by goaltender Vitek Vanecek, who would make 24 saves and stop all Buffalo shooters in the shootout. This game also saw Sabres rookie and World Juniors standout for Team Canada, Dylan Cozens score his first NHL goal with a laser coming up the wing on Vanecek’s Blocker side, bar-down. This game would also mark the return of Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark, who lost his father back in Sweden the week before. Playing with a heavy heart, Linus would help Buffalo still score a point in the loss, improving their record to 1-3-1, giving them 3 points on the season. 

Buffalo, who hoped to get back to a .500 record, would again be stonewalled by goaltender Vitek Vanecek, who would make 24 saves and stop all Buffalo shooters in the shootout. This game also saw Sabres rookie and World Juniors standout for Team Canada, Dylan Cozens score his first NHL goal with a laser coming up the wing on Vanecek’s Blocker side, bar-down. This game would also mark the return of Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark, who lost his father back in Sweden the week before. Playing with a heavy heart, Linus would help Buffalo still score a point in the loss, improving their record to 1-3-1, giving them 3 points on the season. 

Buffalo would return to the ice two nights later against the Capitals, and once again find themselves in a back-and-forth fistfight. The H-E-R line of Hall, Eichel, and Reinhart would again dominate anytime they stepped onto the ice in five-on-five situations. The Sabres power-play would also find life, going 3 for 5 with the man advantage. Goals would come from Eric Staal, Victor Olofsson, and Colin Miller. Jack Eichel, who has been struggling to find the back of the net, would put the game away in the shootout, which had to give him a feeling of relief. Although Eichel hasn’t recorded a goal so far this season, it isn’t for lack of trying. Sunday, Eichel would lead the team in ice-time and shots on goal with 8. We’ve seen him hit the iron multiple times and force a pass when he probably should have taken the shot. Eichel remains near the top of the league in points, recording seven assists in the six games. Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark, who played stellar in overtime, after making the final save for Buffalo to secure the win in the shootout, lifted his head to the sky to say, “this one was for you Dad” just before embracing his teammates.

Buffalo now returns home to face a struggling Rangers team, which sit at the bottom of the MassMutual East Division with 3 points, two behind Buffalo. The Rangers are led into Buffalo by Artemi Panarin, who has 6 points in 5 games. Rookie and this past NHL Drafts first overall pick Alexis Lafrenière has failed to record a point in the five games played. Starting goalie Igor Shesterkin has struggled filling the shoes of departed future NHL Hall of Famer Hendrik Lundqvist, posting a lackluster 2.98 GAA and a .886 save percentage. Although the Rangers have been off to a slow start, they still pose a threat with their elite talent in their top six and speed on the wings. They’re a young team with a ton of promise, but Buffalo looks to carry the Washinton series’s momentum to get above .500 for the first time this season. Let’s just hope Rangers Defenseman Tony DeAngelo is busy checking his Twitter’s burner account in between periods because so far this season, he’s been an absolute tire fire on the blue line for New York. If he spent more time paying attention to opposing forwards carrying the puck into the Rangers zone than he does searching his name on Twitter, maybe the Rangers wouldn’t have such an uphill battle to get into contention in this stacked division. I even sent him…..wait, I mean “Not Tony DeAngelo” a DM, but he still hasn’t gotten back to me. Maybe he’s finally learned…… Nah, probably not.

Thanks…..I’ll hang up and listen. 

Author: Duane Steinel

Writer with The Morning Skate, Trainwreck Sports, and Dean Blundell. Host of the podcast "2 Goalies 1 Mic" and "Crossing Swords". Lost my mind on the radio because of the Sabres and people kinda sorta care about my opinion now. Love hockey above all else. Let's Go Sabres.

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