The Buffalo Sabres hosted their first game of the 2015 preseason in front of 17,298 fans, but couldn’t muster enough offense as they lost to the Ottawa Senators, 5-2. The Sabres offense, on paper, seemed to be quite dominant outshooting the opposition, 42-26. But sloppy defensive play by the Sabres proved to be their weakest aspect of the game.
“The lapses we had were pretty major,” Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said about the team’s play. “That’s the part where we need to grow as a team. If you look at the opportunities they had were golden and in the back of our net.”
The fans got to see some new players for the first time donning the Sabres home jersey, including Evander Kane and Ryan O’Reilly. Kane, who was acquired by the Sabres along with Zack Bogosian for Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford before last February’s trade deadline, scored both goals for the Sabres. His linemate, O’Reilly notched assists on both goals as well.
“We got some good opportunities,” O’Reilly said after the loss. “When you have that many shots, and not many goals, it’s about getting to the net more. We got to do a better job with that, but there were some breakdowns, but that’s something you got to work on going forward.”
Another new member to the Sabres that the fans got to see for the first time was Robin Lehner. By way of Gothenburg, Sweden, the 6’4″, 240 pound goaltender, Lehner allowed 3 goals on 19 shots in two periods of work. He was also facing his former team who drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2009 NHL Draft. Last season with the Senators, Lehner played in 25 games, earning a 9-12-3 record, and allowing 3.02 goals per game.
“I really liked Robin’s first period,” Coach Bylsma said. “They got away with a free one in the slot that went over his right shoulder, but Robin’s got to keep getting in net for us and he’ll be getting that down the road.”
For the Senators, the key player of the game was Ryan Dzingel. He scored the final goal of the game, an empty-netter, but he also added two assists on the goals scored by Max McCormick and Mika Zibanejad. Ottawa’s starting goaltender, Matt O’Connor, who last season played with Jack Eichel, the Sabres’ first round draft pick in last June’s draft, at Boston University, saved all 18 shots he faced in his 30 minutes of work. He was constantly being peppered with shots, but stayed strong between the pipes to keep the pucks out.
The Sabres next preseason game will be played on Friday night when they will travel up the QEW to face the Toronto Maple Leafs. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30pm at the Air Canada Centre. The next home preseason game will be on Tuesday, September 29, when the Maple Leafs come to town. That game will begin at 7:00pm.
For updates on tonight’s game, make sure to check us out on Twitter: @fromthe300level