BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - For the second time in seven games the Buffalo Sabres lost to the New York Rangers, this time falling 4-3 at Madison Square Garden. Kyle Okposo, Justin Falk and Ryan O'Reilly scored for the Sabres, who drop to 11-25-9 on the season.
Five observations from Thursday's loss:
One that got away
Just one minute after Ryan O'Reilly tied the game late in the third period the Sabres made a crucial mistake, allowing the Rangers to easily regain the lead. Sloppy defense and a bad play by Robin Lehner ultimately cost the Sabres, as Pavel Buchnevich tapped an easy goal into a wide-open Sabres net.
All night the Sabres had issues clearing the puck out of their defensive zone and that happened yet again on the Rangers' final goal. Rick Nash made a great play, out-muscling both Marco Scandella and Sam Reinhart to keep the puck in the Sabres zone. Nash then found teammate Mika Zibanejad, who forced Lehner out of position before sliding a perfect pass to Buchnevich, who made no mistake.
Lehner totally over-committed on the play but he didn't get any help from his teammates, who just left Buchnevich unattended in front of the net. Once again when it mattered the most the Sabres made a mistake.
Playing from behind
Kudos to the NBC Broadcast for digging up this stat after Nash's first-period goal. This season, the Sabres have allowed their opponent to score first in 25 of their 45 games played. In those 25 games, they have only three wins. So you're telling me there's a chance?
Bye week blues
At practice on Wednesday, players were adamant that they needed a fast start after their five-day break. That obviously didn't happen as the Sabres returned to the ice looking sluggish, especially in the first ten minutes of the game.
Since the mandatory break was implemented by the league last season the Sabres, along with many other teams, have had a hard time using it to their advantage. Last year things were especially bad, as the Sabres saw themselves slowly fall out of the playoff race. That won't happen this season but a win against the Rangers on Thursday could've done a lot for the Sabres moving forward.
What was that?
Let's start with this -- I have no issue with the occasional missed call or referee flub. Refs are just like you and me, they make mistakes. That said.....What in the world was that unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Sam Reinhart?
After getting plastered from behind into the glass by Kevin Shattenkirk, Reinhart was given an embellishment penalty. Nothing can be done now and it didn't have an immediate impact on the game but come on, that's just an atrocious, laughable call. What's in the past is in the past but it would be nice to see the NHL admit that they made a mistake. Instead, the error will likely be ignored like it never happened.
In his first game with the Sabres this season, Casey Nelson made some critical mistakes. The young defenseman turned the puck over several times and took two of the Sabres three penalties.
According to Sabres head coach Phil Housley, Victor Antipin, who has missed the last few weeks with an illness, is still recovering and not ready to return to the lineup. Although this may have already been the case, whenever Antipin is ready, I'd imagine Nelson gets sent back to Rochester, especially after his shaky season debut.