Well, they've 'Shown me." I told you I'd sack up if I was wrong, and I am.
For the second game in a row the Sens found a way to diffuse a hard-charging start by the Sabres and slowly, but inexorably took the game away from them (assisted last night by Don VanMassiveHoser) to take a lead into the 3rd period. That's the mark of a team playing great and who is focused on their task at hand in a way that their opposition is not and this series, because of that, should be all but over. So, while at the beginning of the series I asked myself the question, "Could Ray Emery outplay Ryan Miller 4 times in 7 games?" The question everyone should be asking is "Can this Sabres squad beat this Ottawa team 4 out of the next 5 games?" The answers to both questions, I think, are still no.
Emery was the reason this game was not a rout for the Sabres. His save on Jason Pominville mid-way through the first period was the catalyst for the Sens beginning to get their feet underneath them. As well, his stop of Thomas Vanek's wraparound kept a desperate Sabres team from re-establishing control in this game.
But, most importantly, the Sabres showed why it is they are going to lose this series with a flat, dispirited effort for the first 19 minutes of the 3rd period. Again, when the game mattered the Sens were the better team from the1st line to the 4th line, while the Sabres played tentative, tight and, ultimately without confidence. Believe it or not, even Briere's goal did nothing to lift my hope for a Sabre victory. It was actually met with, "Well, they didn't deserve that," and absolutely no celebration. Because, by that point the Sens had shown the kind of resolve that the Sabres had not and if the 1st period didn't rattle them, then a fluke goal with 6 seconds left shouldn't either.
And, the Sens were, by far, the better team in the OT's. It was just a matter of time before they cashed one of their opportunities.
The officiating in the 2nd period of this game was horrific as there wasn't one call on Buffalo that should have been called in the context of the penalties let go previously. Don VanMassiveHoser should turn in his zebra credentials for an obvious set of even up calls which practically gift-wrapped the go-ahead goal for Ottawa. The less said about the goal called back in the first 2 minutes of the game, the better. Vs. kept showing over and over the battle with Mike FIsher and Chris Drury in the neutral zone, where Fisher ultimately punches Drury in the face, which, for those who don't know, is the very definition of roughing. Great battle for the puck to that point, but that's a penalty, especially in light of the moronic call on Campbell for receiving a hit.
That said, it is the mark of a great team to fight through that, put it aside and go to work, and the Sabres were not great. So, no, the officiating didn't cost them this game, but it was the catalyst for exposing this team's flaw which is proving to be the difference in the series. Too many guys are obsessed with not getting the calls as opposed to doing their jobs.
Points of Interest:
- Kotalik, Gaustad (he needs to sit, he's not ready) and, for the most part, Connolly just didn't create enough for themselves or do enough of the job that their being paid for.
- After the Sabres went up 2 - 0, the Sens began to settle down, first taking away the middle of the ice and tightening up their gap, while the Sabres defense yielded the blueline playing not to get beat, which is exactly what happened on the Alfredsson goal.
- How Alfredsson didn't get both a 2 minute interference call and a 5 minute/game misconduct for his hit on Tallinder is beyond me. Darren Eliot, that tool, let VanMassiveHoser off the hook asaying that he was, as always, out of position. But, where was Dan O'Hallaran? Or the linesmen?
- Tallinder finally started playing with some jam and tightened his gap on Alfie for the rest of the OT... play like that more often, stop giving him that much respect.
- Drury lost the final faceoff clean to Spezza.
- Volchenkov blocked 11 shots. The Sabres blocked 19.
- For the 2nd straight game, the Sabres outhit the Sens, but they didn't do so when the Sens were in control and never seemed to sustain any pressure from about the 12 minute mark of the 1st period.
- The Sens do not have an answer for Roy/Vanek/Afinogenov. If the Sabres are to get back in this series (yeah, right) they are going to have to finish every opportunity they get.