Game 36: A special teams malady
A 4-1 Sabres loss to the Bruins was punctuated by the inability to score on the power play or to stop Boston with the man advantage
BUFFALO — It’s no secret that the first game out of an extended break is going to have its sloppy moments. It’s just natural. Teams haven’t practiced or played in days and, in this case, players are coming back from time with families and friends for the Christmas holiday.
The thing is, the coaches and players all know this and are more than well aware the game can be like that after a long layoff. It’s a whole other thing to see it play out that way but only to see the ill effects of that time away falling upon one of the two teams during a game.
Such was the case for the Buffalo Sabres in a 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins in which they allowed three Bruins power play goals and scored zero of their own despite having six of their own opportunities with the man advantage for 9:32 of game time.
The Sabres had five shots on goal during those six power plays. This included two shots during four minutes of 5-on-4 time in the first period after Bruins captain Brad Marchand got two for cross-checking and another two more for complaining to the official about the call. They also had extended 4-on-3 power play time when three Bruins penalties (Trent Frederic at 14:27, Charlie McAvoy at 15:18, and Brandon Carlo at 15:45) and one Sabres penalty (Casey Mittelstadt at 14:50) were called in a 1:18 stretch of the second period in which they recorded one shot on goal.
It was a special teams pick-your-poison special in which the Sabres did themselves zero favors and it cost them in the end and allowed the Bruins to end a four-game losing skid.
“I’m sure guys didn’t feel good on both sides of the puck tonight,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “They didn’t feel like themselves… But regardless, you know, we want a lot more intent there and attack there. Again, you saw in spurts. There’s urgency when you pull the goalie at the end of the game and have an open net. We saw more urgency because of that. We need to see more urgency before that. So, yeah whatever, you have a three-day layoff, but we could still have played with more urgency through the course of the game.”