Even with a revamped roster, the Buffalo Sabres are struggling to establish themselves this season.
Ryan O'Reilly had a strong game and Jack Eichel netted his third career goal, but it wasn’t enough to stem the tide as New Jersey earned a 4-3 victory over the Sabres tonight.
That dropped the Sabres to 2-6-0 this season, which is a mere win better than they were at this time in 2014-15 when they finished with the worst record in the NHL. To be fair to Buffalo though, injuries have played a role in the team’s early season struggles.
Buffalo’s top goaltender, Robin Lehner, hasn’t played since Oct. 8 due to a high ankle sprain and that led to 22-year-old Linus Ullmark getting his first career start tonight. Up against a Devils squad that was coming into this contest on a three-game winning streak, Ullmark ultimately surrendered four goals on 28 shots.
The decisive blow came at the hands of forward Adam Henrique, who scored on a breakaway while the Devils were shorthanded:
To make matters worse, Evander Kane missed the final 9:31 minutes of tonight’s game with a possible leg injury.
There was no update on Kane’s status immediately following the game, per the Sabres’ Twitter feed.
Things won’t get any easier for Buffalo as it is set to play in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on Tuesday and Thursday respectively. New Jersey will attempt to continue its winning streak on Tuesday against Columbus.
The New York Rangers were beginning their power-play early in the second period when the game abruptly stopped at the urging of those on the Philadelphia Flyers’ bench.
Michael Raffl had collapsed and, after play had stopped, had to be helped to the locker room. It appears that Raffl might have been accidentally struck in the head by Rangers forward Jarret Stoll. You can see video of what happened at CSN Philly.
Philadelphia has listed him as sidelined with an upper-body injury and ruled him out for the remainder of the contest.
As previously reported, the Flyers entered this game without forward Sean Couturier or goalie Michal Neuvirth due to upper-body problems.
If this is the end of the Bruce Boudreau era in Anaheim, then it is closing on a whimper.
The Ducks have been unable to score this season and that persisted in a troubling 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild tonight.
Already down 1-0 going into the second period, the Ducks were flat for the next 20 minutes. They managed just six shots on goal in that frame and committed four minor penalties. When the Ducks finally had a power-play opportunity towards the end of the second, Wild forward Ryan Carter poured salt in the wound by scoring shorthanded.
Not that Minnesota ended up needing that insurance tonight, just as the Wild wouldn’t have needed it against Anaheim almost any other night this season. Anaheim has only scored more than a single goal in a game once this season. Through seven contests, they’ve been shutout four times and have scored a total of six goals.
In fact, Minnesota was the only team that Anaheim has been able to beat so far and it couldn’t repeat that tonight.
So where do the Ducks go from here? Do they trust that coach Boudreau can guide the team out of this rut? After all, he has led the Ducks to three straight division titles and guided them to the Western Conference Final less than a year ago. At the same time, Anaheim is in win now mode and it doesn’t want to risk allowing these struggles to go on for so long that reversing the damage becomes a monumental task.
Montreal is trying to climb to a 9-0-0 record and part of that success can be attributed to the squad’s strong starts.
The Canadiens have scored first in eight of their nine contests, including tonight thanks to defenseman P.K. Subban‘s rocket shot to take advantage of a power-play opportunity. You can see him get that one by Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier above.
Toronto actually outshot Montreal 14-11 in the first frame, but it couldn’t get anything by Carey Price. Montreal has now outscored its opponents 8-0 in the first period this season.
Things tend to be more even for the Canadiens in the second frame, but they’ve also outscored the competition a commanding 14-1 in the third period.
The fact that Toronto is in an uphill battle tonight is apparent, but through 20 minutes the Leafs were not out of this game.
Antoine Vermette has managed to stay off the sidelines for the most part so far in his career, but tonight is an exception.
The 33-year-old forward isn’t playing for Arizona against the Ottawa Senators because of a lower-body injury. That’s brought his ironman streak of 482 consecutive regular season games to an end, per the Coyotes’ Twitter.
Vermette sustained the injury during Thursday’s game against the New York Rangers. He was originally listed as a game-time decision for tonight’s contest, but didn’t take part in the pregame warmups, according to the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan.
He signed with Arizona over the summer after the Coyotes dealt him to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Klas Dahlbeck and a first-round pick (Nick Merkley) in February. Vermette has no points in seven games this season.