Neuvirth Stands Tall Again, Sabres Fall...Again

The Buffalo Sabres were able to pick up a point against the league-leading Nashville Predators in a 2-1 shootout loss Sunday night in Buffalo. Despite a 13 shot performance in regulation, the Sabres were able to force extra hockey and a shootout in front of a sold-out First Niagara Center on Hockey Day in America. With their win coming in a shootout, Nashville has failed to get a regulation win in their three-game road trip and are now 15-10-6 on the road with a 25-3-1 record at home.

The first goal of the game, a Sabres goal, wouldn’t come until very late in the second period. Following a turnover at the Nashville blue line, Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons picked up the puck and dished it over to Tyler Ennis who took the puck and dangled it past a sprawling Predators goaltender Carter Hutton. It was his 15th goal of the season and it was delivered in Tyler Ennis-fashion as the goal and his celebration brought great life to the deflated Sabres loyal, as they looked up at the lopsided 26-7 shot total, in favor of the Predators, heading into the third.

Tyler Ennis scored his 15th goal of the season, a beauty, following a smooth feed from Zemgus Girgensons late in the second period.  Photo courtesy of Gary Wiepert/AP

Tyler Ennis scored his 15th goal of the season, a beauty, following a smooth feed from Zemgus Girgensons late in the second period. 

Photo courtesy of Gary Wiepert/AP

Sabres goaltender Michal Neuvirth was able to keep his team in it until late in the third when Predators forward Mike Ribeiro scored his 12th of the season with 4:17 left to play in the game. With traffic in front, Ribeiro was able to knock home a juicy rebound past Neuvirth from the lower hash marks. Nashville defenseman Cody Franson was credited with the assist on the Predator’s game tying goal.

The overtime period appeared to be the Sabres period until defenseman Zach Bogosian took a high-sticking penalty with exactly a minute left to play in the extra frame. The puck remained in the Sabres zone for the rest of overtime and the Sabres were able to hold on and force the game into a shootout where their luck eventually ran dry and rookie standout Filip Forsberg netted the shootout winner for the Preds.

In a game where the chances were plentiful for the Sabres, the penalties also followed suit. At the conclusion of the game, the Sabres had 10 penalties, all minor penalties, for a total of 20 minutes in the box. The levee would have to break, given the Sabres poor discipline, and it broke at a pivotal point in the game when Ribeiro netted the power play goal for Nashville late in the third.

“It’s tough to win straight up against Nashville,” Sabres head coach Ted Nolan said. “Some of the penalties we took were unnecessary penalties and that makes it tough [to win],” he added.

Michal Neuvirth played outstanding in his fifth-straight start for the Sabres. Facing 38 shots, with 10 of them coming a man down, Neuvirth was able to stop 37 and take the first star of the game with a .974 save percentage.

“Michal [Neuvirth] played a great game again,” Nolan told the media following the game. “Every game he has played since he has had all the starts, he has played really good for us.”

Sabres goaltender Michal Neuvirth came up big for Buffalo tonight in his 37-save performance. In his past four starts for his team, he has a .951 save percentage.  Photo courtesy of Gary Wiepert/AP

Sabres goaltender Michal Neuvirth came up big for Buffalo tonight in his 37-save performance. In his past four starts for his team, he has a .951 save percentage. 

Photo courtesy of Gary Wiepert/AP

With the Sabres next game slated for this Tuesday against the Blue Jackets in Columbus, the team will have a quick turnaround following tonight’s extended game. Puck drop for Tuesday’s game is scheduled for 7:00 PM at Nationwide Arena.