After three consecutive losses, a few grueling practices and several lengthy video sessions, the Buffalo Sabres finally got the message.
Defeating the Washington Capitals in a 5-0 shutout at HSBC Arena on Saturday night, the Sabres shook off their less than stellar performances against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators this week by playing solid defense first and burying their chances.
“We did things that we talked about doing throughout the week at practice,” Jason Pominville
said, who snapped a five-game scoring slump in the win. “We executed well throughout the game and that’s why we got the results.”
Head Coach Lindy Ruff put the team through strenuous workouts and even longer team meetings to break the bad habits they had fallen into over the course of the week.
Upset with the Sabres’ work ethic and lack of unity, Ruff harped on the Sabres’ play in their own zone that he said resulted in almost 30 scoring chances for the Lightning on Thursday night.
“I don’t think we’ve seen that many in the past couple years. The effort was awful,” Ruff said. “Tonight we blocked shots and had the same passion that we did earlier in the year. We showed a lot of our stuff that we had in the Ranger game [Oct. 15] where we played so well and I thought we almost duplicated that tonight.”
The Sabres stressed keeping their game simple and playing well defensively to overcome the losing skid.
“We got more odd-numbered situations and great plays tonight by playing better defense than we did by cheating on the offense and waiting for goals. All of our transition came from playing off decent defense,” Ruff said.
“After two bad games we came out hard and we played desperate,” Thomas Vanek
said. “I think Lindy said it before, there is a desperate team and there is a team on a winning streak. I thought we were pretty desperate tonight and deserved to win.”
The Sabres heard Ruff loud and clear.
“Those [practices] aren’t fun but on the other hand, it worked,” Pominville said. “That’s what he wanted. He wanted to send a message and everyone understood…. Even if he hadn’t been yelling and showing us video, we all knew in the locker room we had to better and we showed that tonight."
While the Sabres broke some unwanted slumps, two streaks were kept intact as Andrej Sekera
and Clarke MacArthur each registered an assist.
MacArthur has tallied two goals and as many helpers in a four-game point streak while Sekera has recorded at least one assist in each of the past three games.
net two goals on the night to give him a total of 11 scores. Last season the winger did not reach that mark until Dec. 22.
He currently ranks first in the League in goals, followed by New Jersey Devils' forward Zach Parise with nine goals.
The Sabres take on Parise and the Devils on Monday night at 7 p.m. in the Prudential Center.