The Buffalo Sabres’ bigger picture nightmare is far from over, but considering how things have been going, any hint of sunshine is a welcome sight.
Tuesday provided a small burst of positivity as the Sabres ended a franchise-record 12-game losing streak by topping the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in a shootout.
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That’s nothing to sneeze at statistically speaking, by the way, as the Devils fell to an 8-2 in the skills competition this season. If Buffalo fans want more glass half-full bits, here are a few other things:
- They’re no longer last overall in the East as they have games in hand and more wins than the Carolina Hurricanes, who are also stuck at 45 points.
- Ryan Miller had a nice night, stopping 27 out of 28 shots and only allowed a single shootout tally.
- After finishing January with a road game against Montreal, the Sabres could have a very favorable February. They play at home against the Ranger to start the month and the follow that with a trip to Long Island against the Islanders on Feb. 4. After that, they’ll sandwich one road game between two four-game homestands.
Will those stretches be enough for Buffalo to get back into the playoff picture? That’s as much up to them as it is the rest of the league, but 10 points can dissolve quicker than you think. (As you may recall, the Sabres weren’t exactly a shoo-in for the playoffs last season, either.)
Coaches are quickly getting the hang of this challenge thing.
Following Mike Babcock’s successful challenge in Toronto’s opening-night loss to Montreal on Wednesday, Babcock’s provincial rival — Sens head coach Dave Cameron — got it right as well, successfully reversing Evander Kane‘s would-be equalizer in the third period.
From the league:
At 10:34 of the third period in the Senators/Sabres game, Ottawa requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Buffalo was off-side prior to Evander Kane’s goal.
After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Linesman determined that Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons was off-side prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Linesman, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.”
Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Buffalo Sabres.
The clock is re-set to show 9:32 (10:28 elapsed time), when the off-side infraction occurred.
As the league later noted, this was the first coach’s challenge under the offside scenario.
Didn’t take long for Jack Eichel to make his mark at the NHL level.
The No. 2 overall pick at this year’s draft scored his first-ever NHL goal in his first-ever NHL game on Thursday night, cutting Ottawa’s lead to 2-1 in the third period of Buffalo’s season-opener.
Marcus Foligno and another new Sabre, Evander Kane, registered the assists on Eichel’s marker, which came on the power play.