At a news conference announcing a glimmer of good hockey news in this city Monday, Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black told of how “10 years ago, this was a distressed franchise.”
Well … OK, the city was named Monday as the host of the 2016 NHL Draft, and there is great hope the Sabres can land top prospect Connor McDavid as the top pick of the ’15 draft, but Monday’s Columbus Day afternoon special game was a special sort of collapse by the Sabres.
Nine penalties, out-shot 44-12, a 5-1 loss to the Ducks.
That said, the visitors from Southern California also imposed their will, tightening the bond between the roster’s returners and newcomers.
Patrick Maroon’s solid start gives way to injury
It’s not a devastating torn ACL, but Maroon’s left knee was kept immobilized after Monday’s game with a full examination pending Tuesday.
The 230-pound Maroon, 26, signed a three-year contract after shining with an 11-goal, 29-point campaign that followed extended time in the minors.
And he was playing with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on the Ducks’ first line, showing a knack for deft passes from behind the net that had his assists total at three through three games. He also saved a goal Monday, tripping a Buffalo player after goalie Frederik Andersen whiffed on a pass in front of the net.
Yet, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said he believes the earmarked first-liner, veteran forward Dany Heatley, can return from his groin injury by Sunday, buying time for Maroon and injured forward Kyle Palmieri (ankle) to heal without rushing back.
William Karlsson is kicking in the door of opportunity
The 21-year-old rookie scored two goals in his second NHL game Monday after hitting a post in Detroit in his debut.
“He doesn’t think too much, doesn’t worry about what this is, just plays his game,” said fellow Swede and Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm, who did the same thing last season.
Boudreau said Karlsson “will be back in there” Tuesday in Philadelphia, a nod to Karlsson’s leap over 2013-14 Duck Rickard Rakell, who’s been scratched Saturday and Monday after a quiet season-opener.
“He’s a good player with a great shot and his second [goal, following his own shot] showed great hand-eye coordination,” Ducks second-line center Ryan Kesler said. “He’s going to be a good player in this league, and [Monday] was just the start of it.”
Kesler wasn’t calling for the puck when he pounded his stick on the ice a couple times before receiving a pass and ultimately getting knocked into the Buffalo net, receiving a penalty shot he converted – the first in his career during the regular season.
“My stick was just wet,” Kesler clarified after the game. “I was drying it off.”
Keep the faith, Sabres’ fans
The team has been out-shot 131-57 through three losses and is unmercifully headed to Southern California next week for an Oct. 22 game in Anaheim, followed by a visit the next night to the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings.
After what happened Monday, a public address announcement near the end of the game smartly pointed the fans’ attention elsewhere: McDavid and his Erie teammates of the Ontario Hockey League will play in Buffalo’s First Niagara Center on Oct. 22.