The Sabres begin life without Evander Kane

February 24, 2018

Washington, DC (WGR 550) - The Sabres have started their time without Evander Kane. Kane was pulled out of Saturday’s lineup in Washington and will likely be traded before 3 p.m. on Monday.

Kane will finish up with 196 games in Buffalo scoring 68 goals and 50 assists for 118 points. That’s an average of 28 goals every 82 games.

Kane was acquired in February of 2015 along with Zach Bogosian and Jason Kasdorf for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux and a number one pick which turned out to be Jack Roslovic. That pick was 25th overall.

Things did not always go smoothly for Kane in Buffalo, but for this season, he seems to have grown a lot.

Benoit Pouliot replaced Kane on the line with Ryan O’Reilly and Sam Reinhart.

In the first period O’Reilly really stepped up. On his first two shifts, he forced Dmitry Orlov into two bad passes. One led to a 3-on-2 and the other forced Philipp Grubauer into a huge save on a Reinhart tip.

Later in the period O’Reilly sent Reinhart in and it was a big save by Grubauer.

Zemgus Girgensons was also strong along the wall. He forced one turnover and walked in on Grubauer through the right faceoff circle and then out battled John Carlson and set up Evan Rodrigues in the high slot.

In the first period the Sabres really missed Kane’s speed. Just 50 seconds in, Evgeny Kuznetsov took off with the puck in his own zone. He beat Jason Pominville right away to the neutral zone and then beat him again in the offensive zone. Nate Beaulieu for some reason had stepped up to take a player at the red line before Kuznetsov even got rolling and wasn’t in any position at all to help Pominville.

Alex Ovechkin had a couple of real good opportunities that came from raw speed.

The second period was a carbon copy of the first. Washington scored on some superior speed and Buffalo had Grade-A chances coming from winning battles.  

On the second Capitals goal, Andre Burokovsky took off near his own goaltender and once again outraced Pominville. This time, he turned Rasmus Ristolainen totally around and went in alone on Lehner.

O’Reilly continued to drive Orlov out of his mind. He beat the defenseman to the net and accepted a pass feathered to him by Pouliot. Grubauer made a great save.

Later, Reinhart won a battle and found a wide open Pouliot down the slot.

Grubauer was called on for another wide open save when Kyle Okposo came through the crease area on the backhand.

The O’Reilly line finally got rewarded just 14 seconds into the third when Reinhart made a nifty move to get to the net and beat Grubauer far side.

Buffalo kept pressing, but Ovechkin ended any hopes of a rally scoring from where he always does on the power play, the left circle.

The Sabres let it get away in the final five minutes. Phil Housley wasn't happy with some of his players saying they weren't ready to play.

I had a chance to ask Lehner, Reinhart and Pominville after the game if they were at all surprised by what happened to Kane and none of them were. They just felt it is part of the business.