It took the Buffalo Sabres just 1:10 to score their first goal of the evening on a nice pass from Matt Moulson to Jack Eichel. Unfortunately for the Sabres, their offense disappeared during the final 59 minutes, getting doubled up in shots 42-21 and falling to the San Jose Sharks 4-1.
Five observations from Tuesday's loss:
No late push
The Sabres had a chance to start their west coast road trip with a come from behind win against a very good Sharks team, trailing just 2-1 after two periods. Instead, the Sabres allowed their opponent to control play in the final period, generating just seven shots. Four of those shots came in the final five minutes when the Sabres were already trailing by three goals.
Batman and Robin Lehner
It took the Sharks 31 shots to finally beat Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner and for a while, it didn't look like he was going to let anything past him. After the first period Lehner already had 20 saves, let that sink in for a moment, including something absolute gems.
In the second period, Lehner was once again exceptional, but the Sharks struck twice. Lehner was helpless on a perfect tic-tac-toe passing play for San Jose's first goal. The Sharks second goal came on....well.....we'll get to that later.
San Jose forward Joe Pavelski added his second of the night in the third period on a missed assignment from Cody Franson and Sam Reinhart, making it 3-1 Sharks. Lehner's lone mistake, or at least one of his few mistakes, came with five minutes left when he misplayed a streaking Logan Couture, poke checking the Sharks forward, only to redirect the puck into the air and behind him into the back of the Sabres net.
Overall, Lehner played a really solid game, bailing the Sabres out of many sticky situations and finishing with 38 saves. Four goals allowed never looks good for a goaltender but he should be one of the last people to take the blame for Tuesday's loss.
A series of unfortunate events
The aforementioned second goal was truly one of the weirdest I've ever seen. Just take a look for yourself.
Set play worked like a charm. ? pic.twitter.com/UYajs5TWPF
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) March 15, 2017
Before anyone blames this loss on Eichel, just remember who has generated almost all of the Sabres offense lately. Weird bounces happen, no need overreact. Deep breaths, deep breaths.
Not enough pressure
When the Sabres are playing their best hockey they get pucks to the net. On Tuesday against the Sharks that wasn't the case, generating just 14 shots through two periods, 23 (!) less than the Sharks who had 37 after just 40 minutes.
Like my old Macroeconomics teacher used to say: "Keep it simple, stupid."
I'll be missing you
This is nothing new -- but the Sabres could desperately use Kyle Okposo. Over the course of the year, Okposo has been one of their most consistent forwards and really rounds out their top six.
Just think of everything that would change with Okposo in the lineup. Evander Kane could move back on a line with Eichel and Reinhart while Brian Gionta could reunite with Girgensons and Foligno. Unfortunately for the Sabres, it doesn't sound like Okposo is close to returning [if he is, the team has kept it quiet].
That being said, Okposo's long term health is what's most important. If that means sitting him down for the rest of the year then that's what the Sabres should do.