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5 Observations: Sabres fall in preseason finale to Islanders 3-1

5 Observations: Sabres fall in preseason finale to Islanders 3-1
Posted at 9:58 PM, Sep 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-29 21:58:24-04

Last game of the preseason, Brent. Can't hold anything back now. If you get "The Waterboy" reference, good on you. 

For both the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders Friday was one last chance to end the preseason on a high note. Advantage Islanders, who knocked off the Sabres 3-1. Sam Reinhart scored the Sabres only goal in the second period, capitalizing on a nice pass from Johan Larsson. Jordan Nolan, who played in his first game with the Sabres, recorded a secondary assist on the play. 

Five observations from Friday's loss:

Slow start

Full disclosure: I missed the opening ten minutes of the first period because I was out shooting some high school football. That said, I didn't miss much.

Buffalo finished the first frame with an incredibly underwhelming four shots. One of those four shots came with ten seconds left from the side of the net. Crazy, when you consider that the Sabres had 14 on Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. In hindsight, it's the preseason and there are so many different variables at hand, but slow starts like Friday won't fly come next week.

Sloppy second

The second period wasn't much better. Buffalo entered the final minute of the period with only three shots in the middle frame and seven total. A late rush and scramble in front of the crease gave the Sabres three shots in the final 20 seconds, although I think the stat-keepers were being a tad generous. 

Eleven shots after two periods is unacceptable. It's not like the Sabres didn't have chances to shoot, they were just too often trying to make the perfect play. When you get pucks to the net good things happen. 

Antipin continues to improve

In his first preseason game with the Sabres, Victor Antipin was arguably the worst player in a blue and gold sweater. Against the Islanders, he was one of the Sabres' best. 

For much of Friday's game, Antipin was paired with Rasmus Ristolainen, a duo that wasn't shy about jumping into the play. Antipin still needs to develop and grow as a player but the improvement we've seen in just two weeks is very impressive. I'll be surprised if he isn't part of the Sabres opening night roster against the Montreal Canadiens. 

Things starting to take shape 

I'm not betting man, but with the preseason now over I'd imagine we will see something similar to these combinations next week, assuming all players are healthy. For what it's worth, the Sabres bottom six are for more up in the air than the top two lines. 

Girgensons-O'Reilly-Okposo
Kane-Eichel-Pominville
Pouliot-Reinhart-Bailey
Moulson-Larsson-Nolan 

Scandella-Ristolainen
Beaulieu-Bogosian
McCabe-Antipin 

Lehner
Johnson 

*Joker GIF* 
And here. 
We.
Go. 

And just like that, we are now less than a week from the regular season. Buffalo's 1-4-1 record in the preseason is unimpressive but there were some things to like. Sure, it would've been great to see the Sabres go 6-0 or just win more games, but it's clear that Phil Housley has his team playing a more exciting style of game. That is, of course, when they get shots on net. 

Aside from a week-to-week injury for Jake McCabe and a hand injury to Evan Rodrigues, the Sabres escaped the preseason without any major concerns. That said, Zach Bogosian didn't play in the third period with an undisclosed injury. After the game Housley wasn't able to provide an  update but said the team is hoping to know more tomorrow.