BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — After four straight losses, the Sabres found themselves down 2-0 early. Goals from Curtis Lazar and Sam Reinhart tied the game at two apiece in the third. It took overtime, but Buffalo came out on top thanks to a game winning penalty shot from Jack Eichel.The Sabres are back home again on Saturday when they host the Florida Panthers at 1:00 p.m.
Five observations from Thursday's game:
The band's back together again
Last week's shake-up in order to generate more offense after being shut out by the Boston Bruins was short-lived. Two of the forward groups that became a staple when healthy are back: the top line of Olofsson-Eichel-Reinhart and the LOG line.
The temporary shake-up didn't give me enough time to come up with a new nickname for Larsson-Girgensons-Okposo, but they got to the front of the net and did a lot of the little things right.
Along with the two aforementioned lines, the combination of Jimmy Vesey, Marcus Johansson, and Conor Sheary is also doing great things. All three of them are responsible in their own end and none of them are an offensive liability compared to the other two. Those three lines appearing set in stone brings me to my next observation:
No more no man's land
The Sabres are bringing in a forward to help with secondary scoring. Calgary's Michael Frolik is on his way to Buffalo after two separate trades less than an hour before puck drop tonight.
The addition of Frolik (and the loss of Scandella) gives Buffalo more than enough to roll with a conventional lineup that features four full lines of forwards. Given the production and chemistry of the other three, it would make sense to slot Frolik in alongside Rasmus Asplund and Curtis Lazar for the time being.
Playing like he belongs
Despite being one of the lineless forwards tonight, Curtis Lazar's play has warranted a prolonged stay in Buffalo. The former first round pick scored his third goal of the season tonight; it was also his second in the last three games.
Lazar himself has said that he takes "no days off." He didn't take any shifts off tonight, either. He held his own at the faceoff dot when a lot of his teammates struggled and created chances both at even strength and on the penalty kill.
Takeaways turn into chances
The Sabres had a knack for intercepting passes in the neutral zone tonight. Nearly every time they did so, whether it was a forward or a defenseman, Buffalo ended up firing back at Mike Smith.
Too much aggressiveness in that department in any zone can turn into a liability. But someone in blue and gold seemed to be in the right place at the right time quite often tonight.
Get in front and stay there
It's something that the LOG line has done all season. It's also what got the Sabres their first two goals of the night. Curtis Lazar was able to cash in from point blank and Sam Reinhart had a deflection in the third.
The Oilers scored from that area, too. It's something that the Sabres don't do often enough on offense and don't defend well enough on defense. An emphasis on that area of the ice could help turn things around for the blue and gold.