It was the Buffalo Sabres' biggest game of the season.
On the brink of playoff elimination, Ryan Miller and his teammates still had an outside chance, but in order to keep their hopes alive, they needed to defeat the visiting New York Rangers. A win would put them only two points back; a loss and they'd fall an insurmountable six behind. They needed an extraordinary effort.
They didn't get it. If you're wondering where the wheels came off for the Sabres in their 8-4 walloping, I'd suggest, oh, around 18:42 of the first period, when Carl Hagelin scored the first of five goals in just 178 seconds.
If you want to watch the Sabres' season come to an end in under three minutes, here are all five goals in one excruciating clip.
Those first three are especially painful. Both Hagelin's opening goal and the Brad Richards tally less than a minute later are deflections off the skates of Buffalo defenders, but if that pair didn't elicit enough groans, Ryan Miller's giveaway to Ryane Clowe with just four seconds left in the first is what the hockey world tends to call a back-breaker.
It was tough to blame him for the first two, but as the announcers said, "That one is his fault."
And it only got worse. The Dark Knight trilogy taught us that it was possible to overcome a broken back, but in order to do that, you really can't afford to break your back two more times, and the nightmare continued for Ryan Miller in the second.
After receiving the Bronx cheer from the fans on a successful clearing pass, the famously testy Miller responded by waving to the crowd.
Little did he know he was waving goodbye. Shortly after, Anton Stralman ended his night, beating the Sabres' backstop on the short side from a bad angle. Another softy. The fans cheered his departure.
"This reminds me of Patrick Roy's last game in Montreal," Buffalo News reporter John Vogl remarked on Twitter.
That brought on Jhonas Enroth, who fared little better, struggling with his first test, a slapshot from the point that Brad Richards was able to tuck home. It was the second of three goals on the night for Richards.
How bad were the Sabres on this night? So bad they became a black hole, swallowing up other teams in the East. Their loss also eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers.
After the game, Ryan Miller explained his decision to wave back to the jeering Buffalo crowd. "If they can dish it out they can take it."
But he also seemed to understand. "You don't win over Buffalo fans by losing hockey games and putting up mediocre seasons," he said.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Ryan Miller
- Carl Hagelin
- Brad Richards