BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - In a battle between the two worst teams in the Eastern Conference, the Ottawa Senators prevailed, knocking off the Buffalo 3-2 in overtime. Mike Hoffman scored the game-winner in extra time after Derick Brassard tied the game with just 31 seconds left. Evan Rodrigues and Scott Wilson scored the Sabres' only goals as they fall to 17-30-11.
Five observations from Thursday's loss:
A terrible line change costs the Sabres
After Rodrigues and Evander Kane failed to connect on a 2-on-1 in overtime the Sabres made a costly mistake. Rather than skating right to the bench, Kane froze and cost his team valuable seconds leading to a 3-on-2 for the Senators in the opposite direction.
That's a terrible line change and the #Sabres lose (surprise, surprise). After the rush with Kane and Rodrigues, Kane froze and didn't get to the bench soon enough.
They didn't miss as Erik Karlsson slid a perfect pass to Hoffman, who fired a perfect one-timer behind Robin Lehner. If the line-change was better executed by the entire team, Ryan O'Reilly, who was the third man on the ice for the Sabres, would have had more time to get back into the play and break up the pass from Karlsson. Sam Reinhart and Marco Scandella were basically helpless as they were outnumbered with tons of open ice. Once again, a costly mistake ultimately costs the Sabres a one-goal game.
With their loss, the Sabres are now an astonishing 3-10 in overtime this season. Last year shootouts were their bugaboo, this year it's allowing their opponent to score before it even gets to that point.
That's a good question. As mentioned above the Sabres make a ton of mistakes and for as well as Lehner has played in a lot of these losses, on several occasions he's allowed a shot he'd probably want back. Thursday's goal from Hoffman shouldn't fall into that category but the Sabres need to give their goaltender some help. Up until that point, he had played a very solid game against his former team with little help in front of him.
By no means do the Senators have an elite power play but on Thursday the Sabres did a great job killing off their four penalties. Aside from a few nice chances the Sabres really kept their opponent at bay and didn't allow any glorious chances. If there is any bright spot from Thursday's loss, this may be it.
Scott Wilson isn't known for his offensive upside but lately, he's displayed an impressive scoring touch. With his fifth goal of the season on Thursday, Wilson now has three goals and an assist in the Sabres last four games. The goal also extends Wilson's five-game road point streak (3G, 3A).
Scott Wilson is on roll. Depth scoring goes a long way. Nice job by Larsson to create the turnover.
Offense aside, Wilson is very reliable in the Sabres' zone and plays big minutes on the penalty kill. After the season Wilson will become a restricted free agent and with his recent stretch, you'd have to think the Sabres would be interested bringing back Wilson in a similar role next season.
Nice to see some sandpaper
Time and time again the Sabres have been pushed around without any response. Think back to when Devils forward Taylor Hall flattened Kyle Okposo from behind. Or just last week when their star player Jack Eichel was taken out by Bruins forward Matt Grzelcyk. Later in the game, Grzelcyk was at it again, smoking Sam Reinhart awkwardly into the boards only for the Sabres to turn their heads the other way.
on Thursday that wasn't the case as Mark Borowiecki lined up Nick Baptiste after a dangerous pass from Casey Nelson. It was a completely clean hit but a dangerous one that Zemgus Girgensons took exception to. Seconds later Borowiecki and Girgensons went at it, both receiving roughing penalties.
It was nice to see Girgensons step up for his teammate. It might not seem like that big of a deal but those are the kind of things that go a long way in the locker room and with the coaching staff. Job well done by Zemgus Girgensons.