The Edmonton Oilers (8-13-2), hot off one of their most impressive outings of the season, rolled into Buffalo to put the sword to the hometown Sabres (6-13-4). At least, in theory. That was, one can assume, the game plan.
Instead, what happened, was not that. Not at all. What a miserable hockey game.
The Oilers were awful in the first period. To be fair, both teams were. I'd bet if you asked a neutral, they would have stopped watching already. Who has the time?
To me, it felt like there were maybe two, three chances - total - in the first period, with the most dangerous being created by the home side.
I really don't know what to say. This game was supposed to be a lay-up, especially if you consider the Oilers to be even a reasonable facsimile of the world-beaters most 'hockey men' expected them to be in September. This effort in no way resembled what you might expect from a team who really is underachieving, and really is entering must-win territory in November. Again. In the last year Connor McDavid will cost less than $4MM against the cap.
To make things interesting, and I'm having to stretch the definition here, the Sabres managed to muster up a chance near the end that Laurent Brossoit had to take care of. He did, and the teams went to the first intermission pointless. In every sense.
The second period began with Brossoit again having to be sharp, as Buffalo threatened almost immediately. From there the Sabres began to separate themselves as the superior side, spending more time in the Oilers’ end and increasing their lead on the shot clock despite being a goal to the good.
The home side were winning races and puck battles like they gave just slightly more of a shit than their opponents.
This subtle difference in ‘amount of trying’ really proved to be the... difference in the period, with the Sabres actually having a goal waved off after the review of a play they couldn’t review. You know the referees are super capable when they have to be told via headset how the rules work.
Despite this setback, the home side kept the pressure up until it told, scoring a for-real goal shortly thereafter. It was unexciting and so were the people involved in it.
The remainder of the period played out mostly the same, with no Oiler really threatening to impact the game. Riveting.
The final frame felt like a tale of two periods. The Sabres enjoyed... periods of joy during the first ten minutes, extending their lead to 3-0 before the Oilers finally began to play against them in the dying moments.
This too-little-too-late flurry resulted in Johann Auvitu scoring his first goal for the club with less than a minute to go. 3-1.
We all lost tonight. Every single one of us.