ANAHEIM – It didn’t translate into a win for the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, but they did skate away feeling better about their play and their effort against one of the NHL’s elite teams.
Tyler Ennis scored to cut the Anaheim Ducks’ lead to 2-1 with 5:06 to play and put the Sabres within striking distance of leaving Honda Center with at least a point. However, the Ducks’ stars came out and took the game out of reach.
Two late third-period goals capped off Corey Perry’s hat trick effort as the Ducks came away with a 4-1 victory. The Ducks have now won six-straight games.
“We haven’t been putting the puck in lately. To get us right back in the game, it felt good but we got back down 3-1, two goals so it was tough,” Ennis said. “But there are positives to take away from tonight.”
Buffalo had many good chances throughout the game, but the puck wouldn’t go in for them for much of it. They entered the game having been shut out in back-to-back games and prior to Ennis’ goal, the team’s last non-shootout goal came at the 2:54 mark of the third period in their game against the Hurricanes on Oct. 14.
Ennis’ goal came off a feed from Moulson in the corner. Ennis, alone in front, put the puck in past an out-stretched Andersen for his third goal of the season.
Perry then scored his second of the night off a slap shot from the slot with 2:43 remaining to make it 3-1. He then added an empty netter with 1:25 to play in regulation.
Frederik Andersen made 22 saves for the Ducks. Sabres goaltender Michal Neuvirth stopped 30 pucks in a losing effort.
Buffalo has also had trouble with their shot differential. Buffalo managed 53 shot attempts at the net to Anaheim’s 69. Shots on goal favored the Ducks 34-23 but the Sabres had a few prime opportunities.
Andrej Meszaros hit the post not long after Anaheim’s second goal and Sam Reinhart and Ennis were unable to convert on a 2-on-1 a short time after that. Chris Stewart came close to scoring on a chance in tight midway through the third period.
The Sabres were able to match the Ducks pretty much hit-for-hit for much of the game. Buffalo came out of the gate with a lot of energy and were finishing a majority of their checks hard.
PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
After a few good days of practice, Sabres coach Ted Nolan was happy with the work his club put in against Anaheim.
“If the effort’s there, you’re going to have a chance,” Nolan said. “Tonight I thought with a little luck, it could’ve been a different result. They worked as hard as us and they got the lucky breaks.”
One perfectly executed breakout gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead after one.
From behind the Ducks net, Francois Beauchemin moved the puck up to Devante Smith-Pelly in the neutral zone. With bodies in motion, Smith-Pelly passed the puck to Ryan Getzlaf at center ice, who then tipped the puck up over the line to Perry. The Ducks wing then cruised in on snapped a shot into the top corner of the net 8:50 into the first.
Getzlaf and Perry have each played 11 career games against the Sabres and have had great success against them. Getzlaf has 14 points (5+9) in those 11 games while Perry has 13 (10+3).
“That’s something you have to pay attention to when you come to the game. Usually if you can disable the best guys on the other team, that’s when you have a chance to win and obviously we did not do that today,” Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons said.
After that goal, the Ducks soon found themselves on the power play and poured on the pressure.
It became a 2-0 game when Ryan Kesler, an offseason acquisition from Vancouver, zipped one in on a rush 9:20 into the second.
UP NEXT: THE KINGS ON THURSDAY
“We can’t dwell on things. I thought tonight was a much better game, the way we need to play,” captain Brian Gionta said. “It’s a start in the right direction. If we continue to play like that, we’re going to get wins.”
The Sabres are right back at it when they take on the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Thursday at 10:30 p.m. EST.