BUFFALO, N.Y (WIVB) – The Buffalo Sabres snapped another dubious streak in Saturday night’s 7-2 win over the New Jersey Devils.
After winning their season opener for the first time since 2012 Thursday night in Pittsburgh, the Sabres were victorious in their home opener for the first time since 2013.
Here are four observations from their win.
These Guys are Good…Scary Good
Ok, that might be a stretch considering the Blue & Gold have only played two games. However, this year’s Sabres squad is a far cry from the teams that have skated around aimlessly the last few seasons…and it’s not by accident they’re playing well.
Considering how the Sabres have struggled to manage their emotions — by their own admission they would get too low after losses and too high after wins — it was impressive to see a team not be overwhelmed by the emotions of a celebratory night in franchise history.
The Sabres have also been known to play down to their competition, and get outplayed in all facets by opposing teams that are hitting the ice for the second game of a back-to-back.
After losing in a shootout to the Jets on Friday night, the Devils were absolutely dominated by the Sabres in the first 20 minutes of action.
While New Jersey had a small push early in the second and third periods, the Blue & Gold answered the call and put this game away.
Who Are These Guys?
So often times over the last few seasons, the Sabres have lacked any sort of fight. After the Devils pulled within 2-1 of the Blue & Gold with a tally in the first minute of the second period, Buffalo answered back within two minutes courtesy of Kyle Okposo and ultimately opened up a 5-1 lead.
New Jersey would once again strike early in the third, only to have Sam Reinhart collect his first of the season and end any hopes of a comeback.
Previous Sabres teams would have folded up shop at the first sign of adversity and allowed the Devils to rally and ultimately earn two points. That doesn’t appear to be the case with Ralph Krueger behind the bench.
Along with that, you’d be hard-pressed to find moments over the last few seasons where players were willing to stickup for one another.
That’s no longer the case, either.
After Kyle Palmieri bumped Carter Hutton with his backside — it was game on.
Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen sent a clear message as he squared up and hammered winger Miles Wood hard enough to knock his helmet off.
Shortly thereafter, Devils winger Taylor Hall took a run at Jake McCabe who lowered his shoulder and leveled Hall in the corner.
McCabe would then tussle with Wayne Simmonds near the benches before order was restored.
For the first time in a long time, this looks like a team willing to play and fight for each other.
Mr. Permanently Dangerous
Ok, we know Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner can score with ease, which they did in Saturday’s home opener. Victor Olofsson is officially a threat to score every time his stick touches the puck.
After sending his first shot of the night high above New Jersey netminder Mackenzie Blackwood, Olofsson made good on his next opportunity a few minutes later on the power play, burying a beautiful cross-ice feed from Eichel to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead.
Late in the second period, Eichel and Olofsson would team up again. As the Captain motioned the rookie winger to move higher in the slot, he once again slid the puck to the man with the rocket-shot the puck. Olofsson looked to pass the opportunity to the front of the net for Reinhart, but the puck skipped back out to Olofsson who ripped home his second tally of the night.
Hutton Holds Down The Crease
Carter Hutton was sensational in Buffalo’s season opening win over the Penguins.
He followed that up with another strong effort between the pipes — with a highlight reel effort early in the second period.
On the penalty kill and with the Devils threatening, Hutton turned away New Jersey twice with his outstretched leg across the crease and then capped off the sequence by outstretching his blocker to turn away an attempt from Hall.
Next up, the Sabres travel to Columbus Monday night.