The Buffalo Sabres found themselves in a true goaltending battle, but even with the excellence of Ryan Miller, the Ottawa Senators prevailed 1-0.
Miller stopped 45 of Ottawa's 46 shots, but the one save he was unable to make, proved to be costly. The Sabres did have plenty of their own chances to pull away, but Craig Anderson was too good for Buffalo, stopping all 35 Buffalo shots.
"We gave up too many chances for them, but at the same time, we had a lot them. Myself included," Sabres co-captain Thomas Vanek said. "If you don't bury them, you usually get them. It's very disappointing."
The Sabres were outshot 23-16 in the first period, and ultimately 46-35 in the game. Many of Miller's saves were of the spectacular variety, and Vanek agrees that the team let him down.
"He was outstanding," Vanek said. " Like I said, for a second period where we were trading chances back and forth. He played great for us all night and gave us a chance to win. Both goalies played tremendous."
Tremendous may be an understatement. There were times for both Miller and Anderson when the walls around them seemed to be collapsing, but the goaltenders proved to be up to the task. The only goal of the game, scored by Erik Karlsson, was a one-timer that came across ice.
While Anderson played well, there were a few chances where Buffalo probably should have scored, but just couldn't bury the puck. There were even a couple of empty net chances that the Sabres missed. Co-captain Steve Ott knows the team left a few chances on the table.
"It was a very entertaining game, absolutely," Ott said. "I think our young guys can take a lot from tonight. I think it was a great learning experience, in the sense that, even know we lost, we hate losing, let's be honest here, but if we're sticking with one of the best teams in the East, at least playing chance for chance, we probably don't want to get into those run-and-gun type of games, that's for sure. But at least we're sticking around right to the end in these types of games."
While Ott sees it as a learning experience, the Sabres are still 0-2 this season. Head coach Ron Rolston said that his best line tonight consisted of three young guys, and that the Sabres are "in trouble" because of it. He also hinted that he doesn't expect things to get any easier tomorrow, as the Sabres play Pittsburgh.
Miller also was not pleased as he stood, almost dejected after the game. His performance was stellar, but not quite good enough to earn a win, which isn't sitting well with the goaltender who is the centerpiece of trade speculation this year.
"It's not a fun way to lose, especially our opener," Miller said. "We wanted more energy, create some confidence here. We made some mistakes. We're going to come together as a team here. It would've been nice to sort of grind one out and get an ugly one."
While Miller's message is optimistic, his demeanor, while understandable, showed frustration and even a level of disbelief.
The Sabres will hope to take the next set of "baby steps," as Rolston called it, tomorrow night when they travel the Pittsburgh to face Sidney Crosby and the Penguins at 7 pm.
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