Buffalo, NY -
When will this team play a full sixty minutes? In a game in which Buffalo once again had countless chances to pull away, they once again managed to blow a late lead and lose at home, falling 3-2 to the Ottawa Senators in overtime.
Jared Cowen pinched in from the blue line and was left wide open in front of the Buffalo net and was able to just squeak the puck past Ryan Miller. “I thought I had the backside covered,” said Miller. “It just trickled in.” The blame for that goal should not go on Miller however, if anyone is to be blamed it is Drew Stafford.
A rookie mistake by a veteran “leader” on the team led to Cowen being left that open in front of the net in the first place. “Staff was just supposed to stay with his guy,” Lindy Ruff said afterwards. “He was with him at the top of the circle and just let him go; nothing else to that play.”
It is getting to the point where enough is enough.
“I don’t think it’s time to panic…we need to be better” Ryan Miller said after his best goal-tending performance of the season in which he made 41 saves on 44 shots.
The Sabres have now fallen to 2-8 in their last ten at home, and have just six wins in eighteen games at the First Niagara Center; a building that continues to sell out even with the poor product being put on the ice night in and night out.
The Sabres overcame a shaky start that saw the Senators get a lead 1:09 into the game on a goal by the NHL goal scoring leader Milan Michalek. “The first eight minutes wasn’t good,” said Lindy Ruff.
Buffalo was able to overcome the rough start and take the lead late in the first with two goals in a 1:28 span by Paul Szczechura and Tyler Ennis respectively. It was Szczechura’s first goal as a Sabre, and his fourth point in five games with Buffalo. Szczechura said after the game that he was just able to take advantage of the Ottawa turnover. After Buffalo seemingly had momentum, they gave it right back to the Senators because of penalties. The Sabres were shorthanded four times on the night, and each penalty game at seemingly the most inopportune times. “It allowed them to gain some momentum,” Ruff said.
Ruff was clearly agitated after another home loss and is getting tired of all the “could’ves”. “I’m tired of could’ves so I’m not gonna stand here and say could’ve.” It has to have people wonder if Ruff is starting to become lost for answers when it comes to how his team is performing.
Even when their top player is playing at his best, this team still cannot seem to win the games that they should. And if tonight does not prove that all-world goaltenders cannot carry a team, I do not know what does.
Jason Pominville said it best afterwards, “Until everyone is on the same page, we’re gonna keep losing games.”
As the team starts to get healthier one has to wonder how much more lenience ownership will give this team when it comes to turning things around. Buffalo was a team that was tapped to contend for the Northeast Division and even the Eastern Conference by some. However, as it is turning out, this team is not nearly as good as people expected. And unless something happens soon people will need to accept this team for what it really is: a mediocre hockey club with an elite goaltender.