BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo Sabres were outmatched and outplayed on Thursday night. The Flames came to KeyBank Center and broke the tilt wide open to win 5-0. Two of Calgary's biggest stars, Andrew Mangiapane and Johnny Gaudreau, scored twice apiece. Buffalo's next game is on the road against the New York Rangers on Sunday evening.
Three observations from Thursday's game:
Beaten at their own game
The Sabres' style under Don Granato has been explicitly stated since before the season began. Not only that, but when Buffalo is winning, you often see the exact things that the first-year head coach describes.
It's fast. It's pesky. It's aggressive. And it's played freely by forwards and defensemen alike. Clearly, the Flames take that same approach. And they were much better at it than Buffalo on Thursday night. Calgary was creating takeaways and odd-man rushes like it was going out of style.
The entire first period more or less felt like Buffalo was on the penalty kill. The Flames had 11 shots on goal in the first 11 minutes of the game. After 20, Johnny Gaudreau was the only one to break through for Calgary. But as the Sabres continued pressed into hasty errors— largely the same way they often force their opponents to do instead— the floodgates opened.
The snowball effect
We haven't really seen a drubbing this bad all season. And that's a testament to what Don Granato has been doing at practice and preaching during games. It's bound to happen to just about any team eventually. But tonight's second period got very ugly very quickly.
Flames alternate captain Matthew Tkachuk cashed in to extend Calgary's lead to 3-0. Just a minute later, Andrew Mangiapane had a wide open net to light the lamp for his second goal of the game. Less than a minute after that, Johnny Gaudreau followed it with his second tally.
With each goal over just a 97 second span, you could see the Sabres become more and more deflated. And it's not all Dustin Tokarski's fault. There were at least two or three more that Calgary should've had. Buffalo's biggest difference from last year to this year is the belief system when they're trailing. But if you get down by enough, that goes out the window quickly.
Nurse your wounds
After the second period onslaught from Calgary, there's a lot for the Sabres to nurse both physically and mentally. A loss like Thursday's can be hard to shake for any team. On the surface, Buffalo has a couple days off to rest.
It should also be put to good use before they hit the road; Colin Miller left the game after taking a hit from Milan Lucic. We haven't seen Victor Olofsson, Henri Jokiharju, or Casey Mitteltstadt for weeks. In a full season that includes an Olympic break, this much rest is hard to come by. But it's short lived.
The Sabres play three games in four days starting on Sunday. And none of them are exactly cakewalks, either. After visiting the Rangers, they're back at home to host Columbus on Monday and Boston on Wednesday.