Despite a Full Lineup, Buffalo Sabres Unable To Pull Out a Win

TJ LuckmanCorrespondent INovember 8, 2008

With Jochen Hecht back in the line-up last night, the Sabres are playing with a complete team for the first time this season.

The Sabres were forced to put Matt Ellis on waivers, exactly where they found him at the beginning of this season with the Kings.  Ellis has cleared waivers and will be playing with the Sabres AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates. 

With Hecht back, the Buffalo Sabres were able to roll out the punches last night.  The Sabres have the offensive depth to be able to run four potent lines that could score on an opponent at any moment. 

Unfortunately for the Sabres, the Thrashers were able to match each punch the Sabres threw at them, with neither team going down by more than a one-goal deficit in the full 60 minutes and 48 seconds played in the game.

There were four different scorers for Buffalo: Clarke MacArthur(6), Ales Kotalik(5), Maxim Afinogenov(1), and last but not least, Thomas Vanek(12).  Vanek's score keeps him atop the league in goals scored. 

Goalie Ryan Miller ended his shutout streak about 4:12 into the game, ending his steak at 149:12 of shutout time, dating back to the 15 minute mark in the game against Tampa Bay last week. 

An especially weak goal that Ryan should have had was the goal that knotted the score up at two.  Bryan Little came in from the right and slid a floater right underneath Miller after being tripped up by Sabres defender Toni Lydman.

After killing off 14 straight penalties, the Sabres were unable to defend two of Atlanta's three power plays, including the power play goal in overtime by Atlanta's Jason Williams, shutting down the Sabres two-game win streak. 

Getting one point off the OT loss, the Sabres remain at the top of the Northeast Division.  However, their trailers, the Montreal Canadiens are only one point behind the Sabres with two games in hand.  The Canadiens also lost in overtime last night to the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

The Sabres play tonight in Boston at the TD Banknorth Garden to face-off against the Bruins.  The Bruins are coming off a two-game winning streak of their own, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. 

If it were my educated guess, I'd expect to see a goalie match-up of Tim Thomas and Patrick Lalime tonight.  Hopefully, Ruff hasn't lost much faith in his backup since he gave up five against the Ottawa Senators over a week ago.  Miller has gotten four straight starts since then, so it would seem like a good time to start Lalime, seeing Miller's performance last night. 

Whatever happened to the defense last night better not happen to them again tonight.   Although the offense is potent, it can't make up for all of the defenses mistakes.  The Sabres have become much more accustomed to the defensive style of play they've utilized through most of this season, beginning with the acquisition of Craig Rivet.