The Canucks expansion cousins, the Buffalo Sabres, visited Rogers Arena tonight and were not good guests, as they took two points from the home team. The Canucks had a good performance just two nights ago, so there was hope that they would build on that win and string together a couple of strong efforts leading into the All Star Break.
Unfortunately, that did not happen. The Canucks were just unable to get anything going.
The final score was 4-0 for Buffalo.
The Sabres had been my second team as a kid growing up, so I figured, there was no better opportunity to do my second ever post-game report tonight. So, let’s break it down.
The game started slowly as both sides appeared to be feeling each other out, but that quickly changed as the Sabres started to take it the Canucks. Evander Kane had a good look after a Nick Dowd giveaway at around the 2-minute mark. After that, it felt like the Canucks were on their heels and having the pace pushed onto them.
It eventually led to a goal against.
At the 4:27 mark of the first period, Sam Reinhart opened the scoring, putting the Sabres up 1-0:
After that, the Canucks had a bit of life as Daniel Sedin and Brock Boeser broke into the offensive zone. Boeser lost an edge, but while on the ice and with one hand on his stick, he was able to get it to Alex Biega for a nice chance.
Vanek took a penalty shortly after the goal, and the Canucks were able to effectively kill that off and slow the pace for a little bit. But the Sabres were able to ramp it up from about the 10-minute mark onwards. The Canucks did have a couple good shifts with 3-4 minutes remaining in the period.
The shots were 12-9 for Buffalo, with a large portion of the Canucks shots coming during those aforementioned shifts with a few minutes left. With that being said, the Canucks did a good job preventing high danger shots, as the Sabres only had three HD shots in the first, while the Canucks had 2.
Horvat (2) & Granlund lone #Canucks forwards with SOG in first. Dmen had the other six
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) January 26, 2018
Michael Del Zotto led all Canucks in ice-time in the first period with 8:23, and his partner Alex Biega was second with 7:42. Travis Green shuffled the lines a bit to close out the period, reuniting Boeser, Baertschi, and Horvat for a bit, while moving Virtanen to play with the Sedins’. That was short-lived, as they were shuffled again in the second.
The second started similarly to how the first did – both teams getting some decent looks. The Sabres were unable to register any shots for the first part. The Canucks did get a good chance fairly early, as Evander Kane coughed up the puck to Markus Granlund in tight. But he was unable to get it past Robin Lehner.
Shortly after that, the Canucks took a too many men penalty, which was served by Jake Virtanen. They were able to successfully kill that off and send Virtanen in on an odd-man break, which ended with a Sabres defencemen sliding into Lehner.
The Canucks continued to pressure the Sabres, culminating with Boeser dangling around some players before getting a backhanded shot on. Lehner was unable to contain the puck leading to Horvat getting some good whacks at it, but they were unable to get the puck past Lehner.
As the period went on, the balance of play started to even out a bit more. Until, at the 12:49 mark of the second, Virtanen turned the puck over at the Sabres blueline:
That is a poor read by Virtanen, and ultimately ended up in the back of the Canucks net. That was the worst case scenario, but still is a play that can’t happen.
The lineup blender was set to full blast for the remainder of the 2nd period, as the Canucks hoped to get something going offensively.
shifts in final 6 minutes after Sabres 2-0 goal:
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) January 26, 2018
Virtanen had been playing well up until the turnover, but as Jeff Paterson pointed out, Virtanen did not see the ice for the remainder of the period.
The Canucks outshot the Sabres 9-8 in the second frame. After two periods, Alex Edler led the Canucks in ice time with 15:32 which included 2:25 of shorthanded icetime.
The third period happened. That is the best way to describe it. For the majority of the frame, there wasn’t very many noteworthy plays.
The Canucks received a powerplay in the second part of the period and were unable to get one past Lehner. That was followed up by a broken play that resulted in Edler losing an edge behind the net and tripping the Sabre forechecker.
On that powerplay – Okposo was able to tuck a puck that went through Markstrom into the back of the net.
The building cleared out pretty quickly after that.
The Canucks pressed to get on the board, but Johan Larsson blocked a shot and threw it into the open net
The Canucks outshot the Sabres in the final frame by a total of 12 to 6.
- The Canucks played really well on Tuesday night – taking the play to the Kings. Tonight was a different story. They were unable to build on any possible momentum that they might’ve created. They were flat, not skating and unable to generate any sort of offence at 5v5. They led the Canucks in shot differential – although it can be hard to use that given how many times the lines were changed.
- The Sabres are a mess of a team. They have Scott Wilson playing on the second line, Zemgus Girgensons and Sam Reinhart playing on the wing, and dressing Victor Antipin and Justin Falk. They’ve come through Western Canada and shutout the Canucks and Oilers. Those scores were more an indication of the losing teams than the Sabres.
- Baertschi, Horvat, and Boeser played well as a unit and should be reunited going forward. The problem is what to do with the rest of the lines after that.
- Virtanen played well for most of the game, but that was a bad turnover on the second Sabres goal. Head coach Travis Green mentioned that he could’ve carried the puck in further or chipped and chased. It was a poor read and hopefully, he can learn from it.
- The lines were mixed throughout the game – and it was hard to keep up. Green was hoping to get his players on their toes but it resulted in a lot of disjointed play throughout the lineup.
- It’s All-Star Weekend – as Brock Boeser will head to Tampa Bay to represent the organization.
- The Canucks next game is Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche, who have surprised many pundits with their play this season.