It’s not often that an NHL coach, in his post-game press conference, starts off by remarking how tired his opponent looked. But Lindy Ruff couldn’t resist.
“I think we took advantage of a team that, you know, their energy level was low,” the Sabres’ coach said after a fairly easy win over the Ducks on Tuesday. “If you can take advantage of a team, get ’em down early, it makes it even tougher on ’em.”
Getting the Ducks down early wasn’t a problem for Buffalo, just like it wasn’t a problem for the Hurricanes on Saturday, or the Islanders last Thursday. Due mainly to a porous Ducks defense, the Sabres struck three times against Curtis McElhinney in the first period, and again at 4:40 of the second, to take a 4-0 lead.
Jason Blake’s vacation started even earlier than his teammates’. He was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for boarding Patrick Kaleta at 13:36 of the first period, skating quite some distance to knock Kaleta out of the game with the hit.
McElhinney stayed in the game and only got slightly more help as the game wore on. The defense simply couldn’t stop a Sabres attack that outshot Anaheim 17-4 in the opening period, 14-9 in the second, and 11-10 in the third. Randy Carlyle rolled out the same lineup from a night earlier in Boston — Josh Green subbing in for Nick Bonino being the only difference — but the result was quite the opposite.
Only a pair of power-play goals by Corey Perry in the game’s final five minutes stood in the way of a Ryan Miller shutout. McElhinney made 37 saves, three off his season high, and Miller made 21. Teemu Selanne picked up a pair of assists.
The game wasn’t on TV locally, but NHL.com has some highlights here.
The Ducks won’t play — or practice — until they play the Kings on Sunday at Staples Center. Their morning skate that day at Anaheim Ice will be their only organized on-ice practice before the game.