Game 37: It's never not boring in Buffalo
Despite the roller coaster play, Seth Appert's pinch-hit for under-the-weather coach Don Granato and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen's goaltending got the Sabres an OT win.
BUFFALO — As up-and-down and frustrating as the Buffalo Sabres have been this season, they’re never a dull team.
Saturday’s rematch with the Columbus Blue Jackets was an important one, pride-wise, for the Sabres after they were embarrassed by Columbus 9-4 over a week ago. Even more it was important after they’d laid a couple of eggs on special teams against Boston on the 27th in a 4-1 loss.
The Sabres in the midst of all kinds of issues and were presented with another one on Saturday as head coach Don Granato, who’d been dealing with some variety of seasonal sickness the past few days, was ill enough to be unable to coach the game against Columbus. Sabres GM Kevyn Adams opted to bring in Rochester Americans head coach Seth Appert to fill in for Granato so as to allow the Sabres assistants to stick to their roles and not upend the rest of the staff from their duties.
Despite the potentially ominous signs that bringing the AHL coach up to sub in for the sick NHL coach, wouldn’t you know it wound up working out for at least a night.
The Sabres were able to overcome a brilliant goaltending performance by Blue Jackets starter Daniil Tarasov and another disappointing performance from their own power play to pull off a 3-2 come-from-behind win.
“Today was just trying to get here and trying to keep it as smooth as possible,” Appert said. “I really didn’t have enough time to think about my first NHL game. We’re just trying to make it as smooth, with Donny being sick, as possible so the staff and the players could be in the right mindset and there would be no disruption for them to try and win the game tonight.”
That there was as little disruption as possible with the play on the ice was maybe the biggest surprise.