The Buffalo Sabres wanted to play a strong first period. Generating more offensive and creating more offensive chances, especially early on was a point of emphasis coming into their game Saturday night against the Boston Bruins.
They put 16 shots on goal, their highest first-period total so far this season and had four more shots. However, they weren’t able to convert on them and then found themselves in a 2-0 hole after 20.
By the final horn, the Bruins were up 4-0 at First Niagara Center and the Sabres found themselves shut out for the first time in back-to-back games since 2003.
Buffalo has had trouble getting shots on net, but they were able to put a season-high 32 shots on Bruins goaltender Niklas Svedberg. But they weren’t able to get one past him and Svedberg earned the first shutout of his career.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not happy about losing. I never will be,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “But the effort and what we’re going through and trying to find our way through it, it’s going to take a little while. We can’t get too down. The sun’s going to rise tomorrow and we’ve got to go back to the drawing board.
“We need some players playing better. That’s the bottom line.”
DESPERATELY SEEKING GOALS
Buffalo was also unable to score Friday night against the Florida Panthers, losing that game 1-0.
With the loss to the Bruins, the Sabres have now been shut out in consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 9, 2013 at Philadelphia (2-0 against Jeff Hackett) and Oct. 11, 2003 vs. NY Islanders (6-0 against Rick DiPietro). Buffalo has never been shut out in three consecutive games.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Sabres have suffered shutouts in consecutive home games for just the second time in franchise history. The last time came on Feb. 17, 1972 vs. Pittsburgh (2-0 against Jim Rutherford) and Feb. 20, 1972 vs. Montreal (4-0 against Ken Dryden).
“It’s tough to analyze right now but we’ve got to find a way. We’ve got to figure it out. We can’t keep going like this,” Sabres center Cody Hodgson said. “We had enough chances on the power play. Now we’re getting chances, we just have to bury them.”
On top of that, Buffalo’s power play is now 0-for-22 on the season. With the man advantage against the Bruins, the Sabres went 0-for-7 with 13:18 of power-play time.
“We had a couple good opportunities. We need to find a way not to let frustration get in, grip the stick too tight,” captain Brian Gionta said. “Unfortunately right now, we’re not getting rewarded and we’ve got to find a way to get over the hump.”
The first three Bruins goals came from the point through traffic. Dougie Hamilton’s shot fund the back of the net 9:56 into the first and then with 6:29 to play in the period, a Zdeno Chara rocket made its way past goaltender Jhonas Enroth.
Enroth finished the game with 32 saves.
A shift after Josh Gorges blocked a shot from Torrey Krug from going into an open net, a point shot from Krug off the faceoff made it 3-0. Krug’s wrist shot from the right point off a faceoff beat Enroth – again through traffic – with 8:20 to play in the second period.
“Honestly I didn’t see them at all,” Enroth said. “That’s something that we need to work on.”
Things continued to go south from there when an uncovered Carl Soderberg lifted a backhand in tight to beat an off-balance Enroth, who had no chance to make the save.
Those goals came because the Bruins were working hard in the dirty areas down low and it’s something Nolan would like to see him team emulate.
“Scoring, it’s like the weather. Sometimes it’s there and sometimes it’s not. And right now it’s bad. It’s not just bouncing our way,” he said. “We’re not fighting for those areas to get those pucks. When you do that, you’re not going to score. We just need to go back to basics and get some shots and traffic to the net.”
GOIN’ TO CALIFORNIA
The Sabres will hit the road for their next four games. First up is a road trip to California where they’ll play the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday and the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. They’ll make a quick stop home before playing Tuesday, October 28 in Toronto against the Maple Leafs.
Their next home game will be against the Bruins on Oct. 30. Buffalo will look to snap the skid they’re on as soon as possible.
“We’re in one and we’ve got to find our way out of it,” Gionta said. “The guys in this room need to come together and find a way to break free of this.”