Share this article

print logo

Mike Harrington: This Sabres streak is real and it's spectacular

Ten wins in a row. Say it slowly: Ten. Wins. In. A. Row.

Think about that. It's the talk of the NHL. It's moving into talk-of-the-sports-world territory. It's historic for the Buffalo Sabres.

And after all we've seen the last five years, it's just patently ridiculous. And that's said with the highest of compliments.

Pinch yourself. It's real.

Tuesday night's thriller over the San Jose Sharks in KeyBank Center felt like May or June in November.

This was Jeff Skinner continuing to look like Daniel Briere, Carter Hutton continuing to look like Ryan Miller. Rasmus Dahlin looking like Brian Campbell and Rasmus Ristolainen looking like ... well, nobody in the dressing knew what the heck he was doing after what easily ranked as the prettiest goal of his career.

And the dramatic climax even had Rick Jeanneret sounding like Rick Jeanneret.

What famous words did the septuagenarian legend of the broadcast booth quote himself with after Skinner's overtime goal? You guessed it: "And you asked for it, you got it: These guys are good. Scarrrrrry good."

They sure are.

To have a streak like this, there has to be some luck involved. And there's plenty of sneers at this around the NHL because seven of the wins are in overtime or shootouts. Fair enough.

But you also have to have all kinds of players making all kinds of big plays as well and that's exactly what the Sabres have going.

The game-winning goals on this streak go through just about half the roster. Here's the list: Ristolainen. Mittelstadt, Okposo, Sheary, Pominville, Eichel, Rodrigues, Skinner, Reinhart and finally Skinner again.

Skinner scores in overtime, Sabres win 10 in a row for third time in franchise history

San Jose coach Peter DeBoer knows what it takes to win. He led New Jersey to the Stanley Cup final in 2012 and took the Sharks to two wins away from a title against Pittsburgh in 2016.

To DeBoer, it's all about belief and the Sabres have it going.

"They've turned this into a roll," DeBoer said in a prophetic thought earlier in the day. "When you win nine in a row, there's a lot of games and a lot of hockey in there that isn't picture perfect but you're getting great saves or getting a guy like Jeff Skinner scoring every night. Your special teams are really good. You have to win a bunch of different ways and I think they're doing that."

This was another new approach. There haven't been many blown leads, but frittering away a 2-0 advantage in the final 8½ minutes at home with a share of a franchise record on the line classifies as a real gut punch.

So it was definitely a point of curiosity from this view to see how this team would react. Phil Housley shared the thought.

"We usually have played really well and shut down from that point and sealed it off," Housley said. "Sometimes, that's the way the game goes. ... But the guys dug in. It just seems we're really comfortable going into overtime. We've had some good results and I thought we attacked it in overtime."

Sure did. The Sabres had the only three shots on goal, the only real scoring chances. Skinner took goalie Martin Jones' charity and calmly deposited a backhander home. The building erupted.

Until the blown lead, the story of the night was Ristolainen's incredible move past Brent Burns  – and his hilarious "moonwalk" celebration.

"Top 10 goal, not top 10 celly," said Zach Bogosian.

"That was embarrassing. It was awful," added Nathan Beaulieu, failing to contain his laughter. "He ruined a beautiful goal. I'll have to teach him."

" 'Dancing with the Stars', give him a call," railed Rob Ray on the club's telecast. "This was sick."

Sure was. Get out all your fancy hockey adjectives. Filthy. Dirty. A personal favorite on social media: #Sickmitts.

Everything about this team has been entertaining. Lots of numbers experts will tell you regression is coming, that this can't last. And maybe they're right. But lots of the same experts had similar thoughts last year about the Vegas Golden Knights. And it did continue. All the way into June.

I reminded Dahlin that he knew he was probably going to a bad team when the lottery balls were selected last April and he ended up with a doozy – easily the worst team in the NHL the last five years.

What's his reaction to all this? Pretty simple.

Said Dahlin on his team: "Now, it's not bad."

Sabres' 10-game win streak in pictures

 

Story topics: / / / / /

There are no comments - be the first to comment