Last night's western road-trip opener against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks ran afoul with less than 2 minutes left in the 1st period.
It looked like the Sabres' were going into the first intermission with a 2 - 0 lead on goals from Jack Eichel, and another powerplay goal from Victor Olofsson on the hotspot off-wing. Looks can be deceiving.
Momentum changed near the end of the first period when the Ducks thought they scored a good goal. But, after the keen eye of Ralph Krueger noticing the off-sides on the iPad, he threw the challenge flag and won. It's still 2-0 whew!
However, that seemed to leave a foul taste in the Ducks' mouth as they quickly came back and scored a goal that did count, leaving the period down by one.
The second period started where period one left off. (seems to be a reoccurring theme), the Ducks came out quick and the Sabres flat. Before you knew it the game was tied and Anaheim wouldn't look back, scoring twice more ending the period with a 4 -2 lead.
Although this was a horrible game on the scoreboard, it was a hard-hitting game that showed a Sabres team not seen for at least a decade. Every time there was a dirty Duck hit there was a fastidious response by the Sabres.
The first I recall was when Victor Olafsson was in the corner staring at an airborne puck. As he was stared waiting, Carter Rowney heavily landed upon him sending him headfirst into the glass where the Zamboni comes out. If not for the give in the glass I'd bet Olofsson would be in concussion protocol. Another lethal non-call from the Zebra crew.
Kudos to Ullmark for sticking up for Sobotka when he got horse collared to the ice in front of the Buffalo net. That should've been a 5 minute major and a game misconduct.
Ullmark made more stupendous saves trying to keep the Sabres in the game. The Sabres had multiple chances to make a difference but were unable to capitalize on those chances. 1:8 on the p.p. the Sabres were stymied trying to enter the Ducks' zone, never to find a solution, and on one pp gave away two breakaways in quick succession. Both times Ullmark saved the day.
The Ducks exposed the Sabres and other teams will be quick to learn. The real question is, is how will they respond.