NEW YORK - "Keeping the picture small" has been one of Ralph Krueger's mantras early this season.
The Buffalo Sabres coach has stressed time and again that there's a long season ahead and there are going to be many challenges to overcome.
Thursday night, the Sabres were unable to overcome an early deficit in their 6-2 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers piled on early, going up 3-0 in the first period. Artemi Panarin, Brett Howden and Ryan Strome contributed to that early lead, helping to snap their five-game losing streak. Buffalo responded right out of the gate in the second when Marco Scandella scored on a wrist shot from the point 4:17 in.
Vladimir Sobotka was Buffalo's other goal scorer. Carter Hutton made 18 saves on the night.
Video: BUF Recap: Scandella, Sobotka score in 6-2 loss
Overall, the Sabres are now 8-2-1 on the season and despite the mistakes, they know they're trending in the right direction.
"The growth process doesn't change depending on the score of a game. We are still making mistakes. We made mistakes in past games that we were able to find ways to win," Krueger said. "And today, we just couldn't recover from the hole that we dug ourselves into. This is not a big problem. These guys are trying and sometimes it's because they're trying a little too hard that the mistakes are happening. We need to get that balance better.
"We're not OK with the puck management we had today. None of us are," he continued. "We didn't show the Rangers enough respect and they punished us for it. We will learn from that. We're not OK with that.
"Again, we have to find that balance and we're working on it. We want to play on our toes. We want to play hockey that pushes us forward. We still need to work on some things to get that right."
The Rangers made it 3-0 with 37.8 seconds remaining in the opening period when Ryan Strome scored his first of two goals. Buffalo responded in the second period when Scandella's wrist shot from the point beat Henrik Lundqvist.
The game could've gotten out of hand right after Buffalo got on the board if not for the heroics of Hutton.
The Sabres netminder stopped a point-blank chance on Brett Howden and then made this stop on Jesper Fast moments later:
Video: BUF@NYR: Hutton slides across to deny Fast
With 6:50 left, the Rangers hit the crossbar and then Tony DeAngelo capitalized 10 seconds later to make it 4-1.
"They were moving the puck pretty well, especially in the last half of the game," Marcus Johansson said. "They started getting confidence and we've got to fall back to what we've been talking about and not chasing it. We went out of position and they played better than us tonight and that's just the way it is."
Vladimir Sobotka had a low shot go past Lundqvist with 48.9 seconds remaining in the second to put Buffalo back within two. The Sabres had a good push toward the end of the period, but couldn't muster any more offense.
New York scored another pair of goals in the third period to close out the scoring. Lundqvist finished the game with 31 saves.
From the players' standpoint, they're already looking ahead to Friday night's game in Detroit.
"We just have to move on. Truthfully, it's just one loss, whether we lost 10-1 or 2-1. It doesn't matter. It's just one loss," Hutton said. "We have a lot of experience and maturity in this room and Ralph as a head coach is going to keep the boys focused."
Video: POSTGAME: Krueger
The Sabres were down two men for most of the game as forward Jimmy Vesey went to the dressing room 7:25 into the second period and then Scandella ended his last shift nine seconds later due to a lower-body injury.
Krueger is hopeful that neither injury is long-term, but both players will be reassessed before Friday's game in Detroit.
And move on, they shall.
It'll be a 7:30 p.m. faceoff from Detroit on Friday. The Buick Game Night pregame show will start at 7 p.m. Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray will be on the call.
Buffalo is back home on Monday when they'll take on the Arizona Coyotes at 7 p.m. at KeyBank Center. Tickets for that game are on sale now.