Buffalo Sabres Head Coach Lindy Ruff may have summed it up best:
“We weren’t giving up a lot of shots… but we gave up great opportunities,” he said following Buffalo’s 6-1 loss to the Blue Jackets on Friday night.
The Sabres outshot Columbus 27-10 through two periods of play, but only managed one goal as the Blue Jackets jumped out to a 4-1 lead.
“Their shots were rush opportunities and breakaways,” Jason Pominville
said. “We put our goalie in tough situations… ended up giving them the lead and it was tough to come back.”
Netminder Patrick Lalime allowed four goals before being pulled during the second period in favor of Ryan Miller
. The loss, however, was more a product of poor defense than goaltending as the team repeatedly gave up odd-man rushes.
“I wasn’t pulling him out because it was his fault,” Ruff said of Lalime. “There was absolutely nothing he could do about the first three [goals]… If you’re going to expose your goaltender to that right off the bat, you’re asking for miracles. We’ve got to be better than that.”
The Sabres weren't lacking chances. Buffalo peppered Pascal Leclaire with 37 shots on the night.
"They did a good job there," Ruff said. "We pounded a lot of pucks, they blocked...They did a good job of boxing us out and keeping us away from some of the rebounds. We did some good things in the game but we did some really dumb things too."
“It’s not the kind of start you want to have going down against those guys,” Lalime said. “They played a good game and I think every chance they had they found a way to put it in.
“I guess it’s one of those nights. You look at it and throw that one out and look at coming back stronger.”
Winger Ales Kotalik left the game late in the third period and did not return to the ice. Kotalik attempted to jump out of the way of a Columbus forward, landing awkwardly on his leg.
“Al doesn’t look good,” Ruff said. “It looks like a hamstring injury. It doesn’t look too promising right now.”
The loss marks the first time the Sabres have been defeated in regulation by an opponent outside of the Eastern Conference this season. Entering the contest, the Sabres were 3-0-1 against teams in the West; previously defeating Vancouver (Oct. 17), Minnesota (Oct. 23) and St. Louis (Nov. 12) respectively, and falling only to Colorado (Oct. 25) in a shootout.
Last season the Sabres were 4-6-0 against the West.
With Jason Pominville
’s power play goal late in the second period, the Sabres ended a scoreless streak of 132:29 against the Blue Jackets. In the teams’ only match-up last season, the Sabres were blanked 3-0 (Oct. 19) by Pascal Leclaire. The last time Buffalo put a puck past a Columbus netminder was Jan. 26, 2007.