BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Despite a valiant effort against the league-best Tampa Bay Lightning, the Buffalo Sabres dropped their fourth consecutive game, falling 2-1 in a shootout. Rasmus Dahlin scored the Sabres lone goal and Carter Hutton stopped 39 shots as the blue and gold slip to 28-24-8.
5 Observations from Thursday's loss:
It's hard to criticize the Sabres after their effort on Thursday evening. They went down to the wire against the team most people believe will hoist the Stanley Cup in June.
That said, their effort during their road trip as a whole was atrocious. In a playoff race the Sabres need every point they can get and during their three-game road trip, they return to Buffalo with one measly point. With games against the Capitals and Maple Leafs ahead things might get worse before they get better.
Dude, where's the offense?
During the Sabres three-game road trip they scored four goals. That lack of offense is simply unacceptable, especially when two of the games were against teams not currently in a playoff position [New Jersey and Florida]. As has been said dozens of times this year, the Sabres' lack of secondary scoring and production from the power play is a major concern.
Just look at the match up against Tampa Bay as an example. Their only goal came on a weird bounce on a shot from the point. Despite four different chances with the man advantage, including a double-minor in the first period, the Sabres couldn't capitalize. As obvious as it may sound, if the Sabres are going to turn things around, they need to start scoring more than one goal a game.
Huge night for Hutton
Linus Ullmark was slated to start for the Sabres on Thursday until he suffered a minor injury at the morning skate. Carter Hutton came in for relief and was excellent against the Lightning, putting together his most impressive performance in recent memory. Despite allowing two of the three shots he faced during the shootout to get past him, Hutton turned away 39 of the 40 shots he faced during regulation and overtime. Based on his impressive performance against Tampa Bay, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he gets the start for the Sabres on Saturday against Washington.
I don't know the exact number but it felt like the Lightning hit the post at least three or four times on Thursday. Some will call it luck. Others will say the goaltender took away the angle enough to only give the shooter a shot that would hit iron.
With his assist on Dahlin's goal in the first period, Jack Eichel has matched his career-best mark of 64 points. This time, however, he reached the milestone in 10 fewer games.
Despite the Sabres recent struggles, Eichel has continued to prove he's an offensive threat nearly every time he's on the ice. At his current pace, Eichel is on track to record 88 points in 79 games this season. For a team that struggles to score, that's a very impressive season for the 22-year-old captain.