BUFFALO, N.Y. [WKBW] — With eight minutes left in the third period, a loud "Let's Go Pens" chant broke out at KeyBank Center. It was only a matter of time for the visiting fans to get louder as they watched the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-2.
It was just 12-days-ago when these teams last met and boy, how different things were then. It appeared the Sabres had finally figured out how to play some good hockey and were heading in the right direction. Well, that was then and this is now. With Thursday's loss, the Sabres have now lost five straight games and will almost certainly miss the playoffs yet again.
Not the answer
One bad game isn't going to define any player but Jonas Johnasson struggled mightly against the Penguins on Thursday night. After starting with some nice saves, the second, third, and fourth goals Johansson allowed were pretty weak. With Linus Ullmark working back from injury and Carter Hutton carrying much of the workload as of late, Johansson was called upon and could've done a better job. In his five starts this season, the 24-year-old rookie has one win.
Changing Things Up
We saw plenty of line shuffling in the second and third periods, as the Sabres tried to generate some much-needed offense. Most notably, Eichel and Larsson swapped, putting the Sabres captain with Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo, while Larsson centered Sam Reinhart and Victor Olofsson. With the playoffs no longer in the picture, I'd fully support some continued experimenting down the stretch. Clearly what they've been doing hasn't been working and it would be nice to see some new looks in the final 15 games.
I have no idea
What is goaltender interference? If anyone knows the answer to that please let me know.
It's such a simple question, yet such a complicated conundrum. Exhibit A -- the first-period goal scored by Patrick Hornqvist. Johansson was wiped out of the play Nick Bjugstad, who was parked in front of the net. It appeared there was contact made, but in my opinion, there wasn't enough to warrant Bjugstad plowing over the Sabres goaltender. Immediately I tweeted the goal shouldn't count and even after watching all the replays I still feel that way.
It's just been one of those seasons for Jeff Skinner. Once again Skinner had plenty of chances Thursday, he just couldn't find the back of the net. After finally snapping his scoring slump, I anticipated the goals to come in bunches for the Sabres second-highest paid player. Instead, there has been a ton of close calls and three goals. Certainly better than the production we saw earlier in the season but still not anywhere close to good enough. I'm not ready to say Jeff Skinner is damaged goods or anything close to that, but with 15 games left to play it would be nice to see him at least surpass the 20-goal mark [he's at 14].