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Sabres Blow Lead Late in 5-2 Loss to Winnipeg



Winnipeg Jets Buffalo Sabres game recap

The Buffalo Sabres haven’t lost a game in regulation when carrying a lead into the third period all season. Until Sunday, that is. The Winnipeg Jets were able to surge for four third-period goals and defeat the Sabres 5-2. It’s a wet blanket on Buffalo’s recent hot run, keeping them 10 points out of a Wild Card spot.

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JJ Peterka started the scoring with a powerplay tally late into the first period. A beautiful passing play from Jeff Skinner to Kyle Okposo found Peterka on the right side alone. It wasn’t the goal in the opening frame, however. Nino Niederreiter tipped the puck in from the side of the net on a set play to tie the game with 5.5 seconds left in the first.

Eric Robinson recorded the lone second-period goal, as Peyton Krebs slipped a slick pass to him through a defender.

The first half of the third period was status quo for Buffalo, as they went into their usual lead-preserving mode. The strategy backfired once Josh Morrissey tied the game, as the Sabres were caught on their heels. Morgan Barron scored a backbreaker shortly after, as the Krebs line was caught on a long, hard-fought shift in the offensive zone. Barron retrieved a puck that slipped out to the neutral zone and wrist a long shot past Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

The Sabres were able to pull the goalie with 1:40 remaining in the third, which was enough time for both Vladislav Namestnikov and Sean Monahan to seal it.

Impact Players

Things weren’t quite clicking for the Jets, so they swapped Nikolaj Ehlers off the top line to play with Monahan and Alex Iafallo. The move worked wonders for the trio, as they dominated in shot attempts and quality.

Josh Morrissey was also very noticeable, as his willingness to activate offensively generated a goal and a primary assist.

As for the Sabres, the only real bright spot was the fourth line. Krebs, Robinson, and Zemgus Girgensons took it to the Jets’ fourth line all night. It’s not exactly great when that’s the only line going, so it’s not a big surprise that Buffalo was unable to respond in the third period when challenged.

The Difference

Both teams were on the second game of a back-to-back. Both goalies were okay but not great. So the real difference in Sunday’s game was likely that the Jets are just a better, more complete roster than the Sabres. Morrissey aside, the superstars didn’t score for either side. Instead, it was the depth scoring that decided the game.

What’s Next

The Sabres have a couple of days between games now as they’ll head to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs on Wednesday. It will be a nationally televised game on TNT. Oddly enough, the Sabres and Leafs have the same number of regulation wins this season, despite Toronto currently sitting 16 points higher in the standings.

The Maple Leafs are 9-1-0 in their last 10 games.