Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
While sports radio in Buffalo this morning is filled with who was to blame for the Bills' loss to the previously 1-5 Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday, it should be noted the Peace Bridge has effectively been cleared of the few Sabres fans who are ready to jump off at the team's 2-6 start. And if you want a sliver of hope in an otherwise dire weekend, the Rochester Americans did manage to pull out a victory yesterday for Pegula Sports and Entertainments only win of the weekend.
The untamed braggadocio that emanated from One Bills Drive has effectively been shuttered after the loss yesterday while the unfettered enthusiasm emanating from the foot of Washington St. has been tempered considerably after the Sabres dropped back-to-backs at home by a combined 11-4 score. Seven of those goals against were scored by a Stanley Cup contending Montreal Canadians team who came in with a 9-0 record to start the season and the other four came with a rookie goalie in net making his first NHL start.
Even the Amerks were cause for concern as they were humiliated at home by the rival Toronto Marlies (TOR) 8-2 on Friday, the same night the Sabres were getting buried by the Canadiens 7-2. After starting out the season 2-0, Rochester proceeded to lose three straight road games before getting smoked by Toronto. "I was at a loss for words," said Amerks head coach Randy Cunneyworth after the Toronto game. "After every period to go into [the locker room] and give them advice on how we can be better, and it seems to fall on deaf ears, I don't know. Somebody's got to come up with some answers. There's got to be some guys looking in the mirror."
Yesterday, however, the Amerks got the 4-3 shootout win over the Syracuse Crunch (TBL) despite giving up a one-goal lead three times. Jason Akeson who was signed by Sabres GM Tim Murray in the off-season scored Rochester's third goal to put them ahead 3-2 early in the third then scored the game-deciding shootout goal. Phil Varone scored the first Amerks goal and also scored the first goal in the shootout.
Kudos to Rochester rookie forward Nicolas Baptiste who scored his first professional goal an a wicked tick-tack-toe in tight yesterday. The 2013 third round pick (69th overall) was playing on the top line last night with captain Cal O'Reilly at center and Jerry D'Amigo on the other wing.
The other lines last night:
Alan MacPherson, Varone, Justin Bailey
Daniel Catenacci, Tim Schaller, Akeson
Jack Nevins, Jean Dupuy, Garbowsky
Brady Austin, Bobby Sanguinetti
Colby Robak, Chad Ruhwedel
Matt Donovan, Jerome Leduc,
Andrey Makarov had his glove hand working last night stopping 30 of 33 shots (.909 save %) while Nathan Lieuwen backed him up.
The Bills are on a by-week while the Sabres have an action packed week featuring four games. They travel to Philadelphia on Tuesday and are at Pittsburgh on Thursday before facing the Flyers on Friday for their second set of back-to-backs. On Sunday the Sabres travel to Brooklyn to take on the NY Islanders in their new home.
Rochester will spend this week gearing up for their first three-game weekend. The road trip features a visit to Springfield, MA (AZ) on Friday to take on a Falcons team coached by former Sabres head coach, Ron Rolston. After that they visit Portland (FLA) on Saturday before concluding the trip in Hartford (NYR) against the Wolfpack.