Despite battling back from a two-goal deficit in the third period the Buffalo Sabres came up short in Columbus, falling to the Blue Jackets 5-4 in overtime. Artemi Panarin scored the game-winner 31 seconds into overtime, firing a perfect shot past Linus Ullmark.
5 Observations from Saturday's loss:
It wasn't the ideal result against the Blue Jackets but the Sabres deserve a ton of credit for turning things around and sending the game to overtime. After a lifeless second period, the Sabres responded with a strong effort, erasing a two-goal deficit and earning a point for the fourth straight game.
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) October 28, 2018
Sure, the Sabres would've loved to come back to Buffalo with two more points. But in a game where they left a lot to be desired against a strong opponent, it's obvious this team is taking steps in the right direction.
Sloppy Second Period
When the puck dropped to start the second period the Sabres had a 2-1 lead. At the end of the middle frame, the Sabres found themselves trailing 4-2. Quite simply that can't happen, regardless of the opponent.
First period shots:
Sabres 17, Blue Jackets 12
Second period shots:
Sabres 8, Blue Jackets 17
So what happened? The Sabres started chasing the Blue Jackets and couldn't contain their high-powered offense, especially in the second half of the period. If the Sabres are going to continue to take steps in the right direction they need to tighten things up after they allow a goal, not allow the same player to score again 31 seconds later.
Starting to turn a corner?
On Thursday I said on 7 Eyewitness News at six o'clock (that's a shameless plug] that Kyle Okposo needs to be better.
For the third straight game, Okposo has found the back of the net and started to give the Sabres the secondary scoring they've longed for. Okposo now has seven points in 11 games, which is quite respectable for a second line winger.
Not to be outdone, Jason Pominville now has eight points in the Sabres last four games. Pretty, pretty good for the 35-year-old veteran.
Too many odd-man rushes
Didn't it seem like the Blue Jackets had an odd-man rush every few minutes? Early in the game, Linus Ullmark was there to bail his team out. But as the game moved along the Blue Jackets started to capitalize and that's when they broke the game open.
After allowing only one goal in his first two games this season, Linus Ullmark had a so-so showing against Columbus. In the first few minutes, the Sabres goaltender made a few great saves to keep the Blue Jackets off the board. But eventually, he was beaten by Pierre-Luc Dubois who fired a perfect wrist-shot blocker side.
At first glance, I didn't think there was much Ullmark could've done to keep the puck out of the net. That said, after watching the replay Ullmark didn't put himself in a great position by coming too far to his left. Current Sabres TV analyst and longtime NHL goaltender Martin Biron explained the goal well on Twitter.
Linus was really off on the angle. He gave too much room on the blocker side. He was square to the body and not to the puck. Still a good shot tho. https://t.co/04yATtPMC8
— Martin Biron (@martybiron43) October 27, 2018
In the second period, Ullmark's team didn't give him much help. It would've been nice for Ullmark to stop Atkinson's shot on his second goal, but I certainly wouldn't blame the netminder.
Use Saturday as a reminder that it's not time to make Ullmark the full-time starter. I'm looking at you, Sabres Twitter. He has been solid, especially in his first two starts. But he's still going to have nights when he shows he needs a bit more developing.