The Vancouver Canucks dominated the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, controlling play at both ends of the ice and benefiting from a couple bounces on the way to a comfortable 3-0 win.
Save for a scare in the third period the Sabres rarely looked dangerous at home, firing only 15 shots towards Roberto Luongo at even strength.
1. Higgins Hot
The Canucks were buzzing right from the opening draw, but taking a scoreless tie into the intermission would have been an obvious missed opportunity for the road team.
While Higgins did start the game alongside Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler, it was Cody McCormick with the slick feed to set up the goal. McCormick’s clearing attempt sat directly in front of Higgins, allowing the forward to snap it home for his second of the season.
2. Stanton Solid
Ryan Stanton has been a solid waiver pickup for the Canucks so far this season, and on Thursday the young defenceman was rewarded with his first career goal in the NHL.
Like Higgins before him, the 24 year-old found the puck loose in the Sabres’ end and made no mistake roofing a snapshot past Ryan Miller to extend Vancouver’s lead.
While the Canucks weren’t celebrating too hard against a down-and-out Sabres team the visitors quickly realized it was Stanton’s first in the NHL and grabbed the puck for the rookie.
3. Luongo Locks It Down
Roberto Luongo was solid during Thursday’s shutout win in Buffalo, making a few key saves early in the game before the Canucks could put some distance between themselves and the sorry Sabres.
While the game was not without a couple of close calls Luongo kept the door shut, stopping all 25 shots sent his way to earn his first shutout of the season.
1. Frustrating Forwards
It’s going to take a lot of negativity to find something I hated during a dominating 3-0 win for the Canucks, but the play of Dale Weise and Tom Sestito continues to frustrate. While the pair aren’t enjoying a ton of ice time under head coach John Tortorella, the two need to find some way to contribute out on the ice.
Both Sestito and Weise failed to generate any type of statistical event on Thursday, finishing the game without a shot attempted or blocked during six minutes of relatively meaningless play.
These two have to be better if they want any type of permanent roster spot on the team.
2. Hodgson Let Free
Ultimately Thomas Vanek failed to tickle the twine, but the Canucks came very close to allowing Cody Hodgson to begin the comeback Thursday for the Sabres. Hodgson took advantage of a Kevin Bieksa pinch and turned the puck up ice for a 2-on-1, feeding Vanek on the right wing as he cut in on Roberto Luongo.
While it turned out that Thomas Vanek had been denied by both the post and crossbar, it was simply far too close to becoming a one-goal game in the third period.
The Canucks have to be better aware of where the opposition’s best players are on the ice. The Sabres only really have two of them, anyways.
3. Miller Miserable
I’ll admit it, I hate to see Ryan Miller in such a horrible situation. Since Milan Lucic ran him over two seasons ago Miller has rarely had much support in Buffalo, and it’s time the organization trades him away for whatever they can get.
The Sabres were downright terrible on Thursday, and it comes as no surprise that he failed to face the media post-game.
He wants out, and it’s a sad situation for all sides.
Ryan Miller’s time as a Sabre is coming to an end, and I just hope it happens soon for his sake.