Published by hockeybuzz.com, 12-18-2016
Taking five of a possible six points over the last three games simply rocks. How the Buffalo Sabres did so is somewhat unsettling as they gave up the first goal all three games. Against the LA Kings on Tuesday they gave up the first two goals before storming back for a 6-3 win on the strength of four unanswered goals in the second period.
Buffalo had trouble with the tight checking of the NY Islanders on Friday but got the game to overtime on Matt Moulson's game-tying goal early in the third period. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen provided the winner in OT while goalie Robin Lehner followed up a so-so performance against LA with a strong one against the Isles.
The Carolina Hurricanes did their finest 1995 NJ Devils impression by bogging things down through two periods while taking a 1-0 lead into the third. The Sabres, and PNC Arena finally came to life but it took most of the period for Buffalo to score as the much maligned Evander Kane tipped in a pass from the point by Jake McCabe. Anders Nilsson was solid in net, but he only had to face 16 shots through regulation. As per usual, the Sabres stunk in the shootout, yet still managed the loser point and right now it's all about getting points.
Beginning in Pittsburgh with a 2-1 shootout win (ironically, their only SO win on the season,) the Sabres have compiled a 7-3-3 record good for 17 points. Projected out over an 82-game season that comes to a total of 107 points.
Since Jack Eichel's return to the lineup they are 5-2-2 for a total of 12 points or on pace for 109 points.
It will take a pace like that to get them into the playoffs.
The cool part about mounting comebacks in the last three games is that we in Sabreland know it's possible. After witnessing the barrage of goals against LA, how many fans did not get that sinking feeling when Buffalo was behind both the Isles and 'Canes? Count me as one.
Then think back to the dread that was early-mid November.
The Sabres haven't had a fully healthy d-corps for quite a while. In fact they've only played a handful of games with the defense as laid out over the summer.
Buffalo started out the season with Dmitry Kulikov out and upon his return one game into the season they played the next eight games with their top-six intact. From October 16 to November 1 Buffalo went 4-2-2 for 10 points. Projected out over an 82-game season that's 102 points for that stretch with a complete d-corps.
Also during that eight-game span the Sabres outscored their opponents by a combined 21-17 or an average of 2.63 to 2.13.
And they had their only three-game winning streak of the season outscoring their opponents by a combined 8-2 score.
From November 3, their first game without Bogosian to the last game prior to Eichel's return (Nov. 25) Buffalo had a record of 3-6-3 with a the defense decimated by injuries and top-two center Ryan O'Reilly joining Eichel for a stint. Buffalo scored 15 goals for (1.36 g/gm) and gave up 27 (2.45.)
The nine points in 11 games projects out to 67 points over an 82-game season.
No wonder there were calls to man the tanks once again as the Sabres were certainly looking like a last place team.
Just something to chomp on.