It was a fantastic season, which was so much fun, but tonight the Sabres were officially eliminated from playoff contention with a 6-2 loss on the road against the New Jersey Devils.
The Devils opened the scoring with 8:18 left in the first period getting credited to Jesper Boqvist with the puck going off Jokiharju’s skate on a rebound after Levi made the initial save on the play. The Sabres looked fatigued that period but it wasn’t horrible, going into the intermission down 1-0.
Just 1:06 into the second period, the Devils went up 2-0 in transition once again on a great shot from the top of the circle from Jonas Siegenthaler. 5:35 into the period, JJ Peterka got behind the Devils’ defense in transition to put the Sabres on the board. Turned out to be a touch offsides though and got taken off the board, back to 2-0. Didn’t take too long later though and with 13:03 left in the period, Jeff Skinner with an open net scored on a great pass from Mittelstadt after a great zone entry and backhand pass from Alex Tuch. Jersey answered back not much time later, Miles Wood came streaking up the ice and scoring to take the two goal lead back making it a 3-1 game. Another period that on the stats didn’t look bad but wasn’t great.
The Devils took a 4-1 lead likely putting the game out of reach with Tatar putting the puck past Levi with 12:48 left in regulation. With 6:45 left the Sabres got back into the game, as Alex Tuch set up Mattias Samuelsson on a beautiful chance. Granato pulled Devon Levi early to make it a 6 on 4 with the Sabres on the powerplay and despite the Sabres putting in a solid effort with a nice scoring chance, Tomas Tatar scored on the empty net to put the Devils up 5-2. Jack Hughes followed it with another empty net goal to go up 6-2 which ended up being the final.
Final: Sabres 2, Devils 6
The Sabres had their chances tonight but it just wasn’t a great game and the Devils were the better team. We outshot Jersey 38-30 and Levi was good in net but it just wasn’t enough by the entire team in the second half of a back to back.
With that regulation loss, the Sabres are eliminated from playoff contention, not able to catch the Islanders on the tiebreaker of regulation wins even if we get both wins on Thursday and Friday and the Isles lose to the Habs tomorrow night. It took till Game 80 of the season to be eliminated. Thats a hell of an accomplishment for these boys.
Twelve long years without a playoff appearance, but this was easily the best season since 2011. This team has so much young talent that is only going to be getting better in the future. A bunch of kids in their 20s that have the ability to take this team to a whole other level in the future. We were a fucking top three offense in the National Hockey League this year and every single game was fun to watch. We have a legit superstar in Tage Thompson. We have two fantastic leaders that contribute every night in Alex Tuch (future captain?) and Jeff Skinner. Another young superstar in the making in “the workhorse from Whitehorse”; Dylan Cozens and a ton of other really good young hockey players that set up a winning franchise for years to come. A fantastic offensive defenseman in Rasmus Dahlin who’s matured into the player we hoped for when we drafted him first overall a few years back. A bunch of our players really came into their own this season, which was great to see. And most importantly we might have found our goalie of the future over the last couple weeks in Devon Levi. Let’s get another solid goaltender to complement Levi for next year, bolster up the defense and let’s finally end that drought next year and make some noise.
This team gave us the most fun I’ve had watching hockey since I fell in love with the sport when I was a little kid as the Sabres made those runs in 05-06 and 06-07, and with that one of the most memorable nights of the year was putting Ryan Miller’s number #30 up in the rafters of KeyBank Center. Time to usher in that next era of Sabres hockey for another generation of kids to adore this team for the rest of their lives while we get to chase lifting that holy grail, the greatest accomplishment for a team in all of sports, lifting Lord Stanley.
What a year…and it’s only going to FINALLY get better for this franchise.
Time to go watch 2005-06 highlights and cry myself to sleep.
Let’s Go Buffalo.
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