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Getting to Scoring Areas an ‘Issue’ Against Blues

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St. Louis Blues Buffalo Sabres game recap

The Buffalo Sabres dropped Saturday’s afternoon game to the St. Louis Blues 3-1 as scoring remains an issue for the team. Head coach Don Granato was visibly ticked after the game, referring to the team’s lack of effort to get to the front of the net.

The Sabres sustained offensive control throughout the game but were only able to cash in on a Kyle Okposo attempt that was put in by a Blues defender. The Sabres’ lone goal was a second period answer to Jake Neighbours’ powerplay tally in the first. St. Louis then responded with another go-ahead goal on a fortunate bounce to Jordan Kyrou right in front.

With the Sabres pressing in the late minutes of the game, Neighbours scored his second of the game on a nifty rush play with Brayden Schenn. The goal sealed yet another game where the Sabres outshot their opponent by a healthy margin and lost. Shots in the game favored Buffalo 34-26.

Must Read: Oettinger Stop 47 to Defeat Sabres

Impact Players

Jake Neighbours was the clear expected goal leader in the game, netting two prime opportunities. The Blues’ top line of Pavel Buchnevich, Robert Thomas, and Jordan Kyrou generated chances most consistently for St. Louis. The Blues’ best player, however, was probably Joel Hofer. The backup goalie stepped up in a big way to ensure the Sabres weren’t able to tie the game.

For the Sabres, the top line of Jeff Skinner, Tage Thompson, and Kyle Okposo were the best on the ice throughout the game. Okposo in particular recorded an incredible 93.72% expected goals percentage in the game per Evolving-Hockey.

The Difference

The difference on Saturday afternoon was the effort to do the things required to win.

Sabres captain Kyle Okposo after the game alluded to the team needing to find “another gear”. “It’s just digging in a little bit more,” Okposo said, “We’re playing well, we’re playing better, but we got more. I know we have more. I know we’re a better team than that.”

That lack of effort also carried into Buffalo’s play with the man advantage. “When you’re unwilling to shoot…when you’re unwilling to retrieve or unwilling to be net-front…you want to set the perfect play up. And we were guilty of that,” Granato stated postgame. “Too much perimeter, too much movement away from the net.”

What’s Next

The Sabres host the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday as their four-game homestand continues. The Los Angeles Kings fired head coach Todd McLellan since their last meeting against Buffalo on January 24th. The Kings have been drastically better on the road, going 15-6-4 in their 25 road games so far this season.

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