Very few good things happen in Buffalo, New York. The oft-forgotten city in the Empire State has a ridiculously high crime rate, it snows pretty much 100 percent of the time and, making matters even worse, that’s where the Buffalo Sabres play. All in all, the city is probably in desperate need of a good hug.
Monday, though, something really bad happened in Buffalo — the Golden Knights lost.
Yes, to the Sabres. And it was ugly.
Just a couple days after its thrilling 2-1 shootout victory over the Minnesota Wild, Vegas was simply outplayed by Buffalo and reverted back to the sloppy play showcased in the season opener.
Sabres captain Jack Eichel was an absolute terror against the Knights, scoring two goals in the contest to lead to Buffalo’s 4-2 victory. His first tally of the game came on the power play, where he lasered one past Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Sabres a one-goal lead. Later on in the second period, Eichel was left completely uncovered in the slot before beating Fleury again with a silky backhander.
Following Eichel’s second tally, Knights forward Erik Haula managed to cut the Buffalo lead in half with a wrister that deflected off a Sabres defender and past netminder Carter Hutton, but it didn’t take long for the Sabres to get a lucky bounce of their own. Immediately after Haula’s goal, Marco Scandella had a point shot redirect off a Vegas defender and into the net.
Nothing Fleury can do here.
Then things got really bad. A little over a minute after Scandella’s tally, Jason Pominville, not unlike Eichel on his second goal, was left unguarded in front of the Vegas net, leading to his first goal of the season. The duo of Nick Holden and Jon Merrill, who have taken a fair amount of heat so far this season, was on the ice for the marker.
Jonathan Marchessault did manage to get another goal on the board for Vegas in the third period, but it was too little too late for the Knights at that point.
In what has become a common theme in the season’s early going, Vegas’ defense looked rough. The Sabres were gifted numerous odd-man rush opportunities, and missed assignments were aplenty. It was an ugly game for the team as a whole, but the defense was particularly substandard in this one.
Things won’t be getting much easier for the Golden Knights, either. Wednesday, they travel to D.C. to take on the Washington Capitals, followed by a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins less than 24 hours later. And after the back-to-back, the Knights will travel back east to take on the Philadelphia Flyers, who ran over Vegas in the season opener.