A disallowed goal and three hit posts in a performance head coach Lindy Ruff termed "as good as we've played" continued the Buffalo Sabres offensive woes.
Despite peppering goaltender Andrew Raycroft with 30 shots, the Sabres were shutout, 3-0, for the second time in three games and extended their five-on-five scoreless streak to two and a half contests.
Buffalo hasn't tallied an even-strength goal during regulation since 9:08 of the second period against Florida on Nov. 2 and has been consistently playing from behind after allowing the first score in 12 straight.
"It's just the way things are going," said goaltender Ryan Miller
. "Eventually, things are going to go our way. Right now, it's just hard not to be pissed off.
"It's divisional games. We've got to show up and we've got to have offense."
Buffalo's second match-up in nine straight against Northeast Division foes was especially frustrating after the team applied dominating pressure in the offensive zone and gave up few chances.
A couple key breakdowns in the defensive system can be attributed to Toronto first two scores, but overall, the Sabres played well enough to win.
"We didn't play poorly in our own end and we did a lot of really good things in their end," said Ruff. "But we didn't score."
"It's trending that way the last three games," said Miller of the team's scoring troubles. "We got two [goals on Wednesday], were in a tight game all night and it took overtime to get [the win]. Really in regulation, we've only got one goal [in the last three games].
"You could argue that we're playing better defensively, but we need to find the medium where we're better on offense."
Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek returned to the Sabres lineup after missing three games with a shoulder injury. Despite his recent inactivity, Spacek and defense partner Brian Campbell led the team in ice time.
Spacek logged 24:22 minutes and finished with two shots on goal, two blocked shots and a minus-two rating. Campbell registered 26:17 TOI.
"It's key to get him back," said Ruff. "It helps our transition game, it helps us five-on-five and he was doing a great job penalty killing at the same time. Power play speaks for itself."
Tim Connolly's abdominal strain is improving but has still not healed to the point where the talented center can return to practice, Ruff said Friday.
"He's better, but he still has some tenderness," said Ruff. "I believe he went out and tried to skate for a little while, but he's not skating with us so you're still looking at a little bit of time."
Ruff also addressed defenseman Nolan Pratt's groin injury, which by its nature has forced the Sabres to be cautious with rehabilitation. Pratt hasn't seen game action since suffering the injury in his Sabres debut on Nov. 2.
"Every day he's been feeling a little better, but he still can do that high intensity, controlled stops and starts," Ruff said. "With groins if you go too fast, too soon he'll have a setback. We're trying to stay away from that."