One goal was all that was needed on both sides of center ice in American Airlines Center on Wednesday night. It was all the Buffalo Sabres needed to tie the game, and it proved to be all that the Dallas Stars needed to win the game.
Dallas captain Jamie Benn opened the scoring 8:39 into the first period, and that was all that the fans in attendance saw. 1-0 shutouts feel great for winning team but sting something fierce for the losers. One goal wouldn’t have just stopped the Sabres from being zeroed by Ben Bishop, it would have stopped them from losing potentially. What’s ironic is Buffalo outshot the Stars 30-27, but couldn’t put even one in the back of the net.
The frustrating display from the Sabres wasted arguably Linus Ullmark’s best game of the year. The 25-year-old Swede stood on his head and kept Buffalo in the game until the end, stopping 26 of the 27 opportunities he faced. It can’t be fun getting tagged with the loss in a game where you only let one shot get past you. If Ullmark was steamed right now, it would be quite understandable.
To their credit, the Sabres were on the wrong side of an objectionable call midway through the third. Marco Scandella fired a shot through traffic that got past Bishop to tie the game. However, the goal was immediately waved off by the referee behind the net, ruling that Bishop was bumped by Nathan Beaulieu. Despite it being clear as day that Beaulieu was shoved into the netminder by Jamie Oleksiak, Buffalo’s challenge was overruled. It was a pretty weak call, but Buffalo can’t blame its loss on that alone.
To lob sodium on an open laceration, the Penguins dropped the Lightning 4-2. Buffalo is now four points out of the East’s last playoff spot, though that doesn’t really matter right now because the Sabres simply aren’t a playoff team.
Over the last two and a half months Buffalo has lost games to teams it should have beaten easily and hasn’t won consistently at all. Teams that can’t win consecutive games or score even one goal in a given game aren’t postseason caliber. I don’t know what it’s going to take for this team to get it’s head on straight, but it’s going to get ugly in a hurry if it doesn’t happen soon.
Buffalo returns home to take on Chicago on Friday. The Blackhawks are currently one of the NHL’s worst teams, so given recent trends they’ll probably walk out of KeyBank Center with an easy win.