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5 Observations: Sabres get first win, take down Ducks 3-1

5 Observations: Sabres get first win, take down Ducks 3-1
Posted at 11:49 PM, Oct 15, 2017

At last, the Buffalo Sabres have won a game. For the first time this season the Sabres earned two points, knocking off the Anaheim Ducks 3-1. The win is the first as a head coach for Phil Housley and improves the Sabres record to 1-4-1. Justin Bailey, Benoit Pouliot and Johan Larsson [empty-net] were the goal scorers for the Sabres.

Five observations from Sunday's win:

Finally

It took longer than we all expected but finally, the Sabres can play their victory music after the game in the locker room. How many of you thought the Ducks would tie the game after all those missed empty-nets from the Sabres in the final minute and a half? I'm not going to lie, I thought the same. 

Winning in the NHL is not easy, especially when you're in a slump like the Sabres were in. It's only one win, but like they say, the first step is always the hardest. Exhale and breathe, it's a long season. 

"Welcome Back" - Mase 

In his first game with the big club this season, Justin Bailey provided the Sabres with a serious spark. It was almost like when Adam Banks joined the District Five Ducks. In his first shift this season, Bailey scored his third career goal, jamming in a rebound from just outside the crease. 

All game Bailey played with fire, creating chances and finishing his checks. Bailey's most noticeable attributes are his size and speed, two traits the Sabres lineup has been missing. During his previous stints with the Sabres, consistency has been Bailey's biggest bugaboo. If he can continue to play like he did on Sunday night he won't be heading back to Rochester any time soon. 

STOP TAKING PENALTIES

Evander Kane has had a very strong start to the season but he needs to stop taking penalties. On Saturday, Kane's offensive zone tripping penalty cost the Sabres the game. Less than 24 hours later Kane apparently didn't learn his lesson taking three (!) penalties against the Ducks. 

After tweeting that this has become a problem several fans pointed out that players who play an aggressive style take more penalties than others. That's right, but you have to be smart. Playing aggressive and physical doesn't give you a pass to take dumb penalties, especially in the offensive zone. 

Don't get me wrong, Kane has been very impressive but the penalties need to stop. 

Ryan O'Reilly needs to be better

For the sixth straight game Sabres assistant captain Ryan O'Reilly has stood out for the wrong reasons. Maybe he's held to a higher standard or perhaps I'm being overly critical but O'Reilly needs to start making plays. 

What makes O'Reilly such a talented player is that he's steady and consistent at both ends of the ice. That hasn't been the case this year, as he boasts a minus-four plus/minus rating and has only one assist. 

Two plays, in particular, stand out -- both occurring in the second period. The first came on a Sabres power play when O'Reilly failed to convert on a pretty pass from Eichel. He normally buries that shot in his sleep. The second play happened on another Sabres power play when O'Reilly misplayed a puck near the blue line, eventually allowing a Ducks shorthanded goal. O'Reilly knows he needs to better and I'm confident that he'll return to form sooner rather than later. 

Same story, different night 

We could almost copy and paste the same observation from every game so far this year. The Sabres special teams continue to be anything but special, as the blue and gold allowed ANOTHER shorthanded goal, their fifth of the season. For some perspective, the Sabres allowed four shorties in 82 games last season. 

Almost as concerning, the Sabres have now converted on only two of their 22 power play attempts this season. For a team that hasn't been able to score a lot of goals, they need to take advantage of the power play.