Sabres' Ristolainen trying to get his consistent game back.

February 15, 2018

Ottawa, ON (WGR 550) - Rasmus Ristolainen played maybe the worst game of his career on Sunday against Colorado, but he followed that up with a very good game on Tuesday against Tampa Bay. Ristolainen played 28:26 against the Lightning after being benched for long stretches against the Avalanche.   

He’s getting back involved with the offense with points in four straight games.

The first period of Thursday’s game was good on the penalty kill, but pretty poor 5-on-5. Ristolainen spent 1:53 killing penalties and I liked the way he got his stick in the passing lanes on more than one occasion. He also got back to block some shots.

When it came to even strength it was a different story. His very first pass was a careless backhand pass from the wall to the center of the ice that was picked off by Derick Brassard. He only could get an off-angle shot on Robin Lehner, so Ristolainen was lucky that play didn’t cost him.

Later, Matt Duchene came out from the side of the net and Ristolainen just watched him go right by him. Duchene wasn’t able to get himself turned around to get a shot on net.

Off a faceoff, Mike Hoffman used his speed to get around Ristolainen, but Lehner made a big save.

In the first period Ristolainen played 7:08 with two hits and four blocked shots.

The second period started better than the first did. Ristolainen had back-to-back pinches on the right wing wall. After the second one, he got a shot on Craig Anderson and produced a very dangerous rebound.

The Sabres got their first power play opportunity at 6:40 of the second, and it didn't go well for Ristolainen’s unit. After 1:26 on the ice, he stormed off and slammed the door.

He seemed to have settled down in this period making two good breakout passes in a row.

The Sabres had to kill off another late penalty and once again, Ristolainen was very strong at taking the passes away. He did clear a rebound, but he gave it right back to Erik Karlsson.

He almost made it five straight games with a point sliding into the left circle setting up Zemgus Girgensons in front who missed. That was pretty much Buffalo’s only scoring opportunity of the second period because they spent too much time in the penalty box.

After 40 minutes Ristolainen had 17:15 of playing time with three hits and four blocked shots.

The power play Buffalo got in the third period was much better with Ristolainen making quick, accurate plays from up top.

On the game tying goal by the Sens with just over 30 seconds left, Ristolainen slid across to try to block the shot by Brassard, but he just missed it.

Buffalo lost it in overtime and Phil Housley said in the postgame show that they got what they deserved.

Overall Ristolainen played 28:18 getting three shots, four hits and five blocked shots. His best period was the third period, but in the end, the team could only get one point and if wasn't for Robyn Lehner, wouldn't have gotten any.