EDMONTON – The Buffalo Sabres dropped their 13th game in a row in a 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Thursday.
All of the games in the losing streak have come in regulation. The last team to lose 13-straight games in regulation was the 2003-04 Pittsburgh Penguins (Jan. 13-Feb. 2, 2004), according to Elias Sports Bureau.
“It’s painful to be honest with you. Not being able to play a full 60 minutes,” Sabres forward Torrey Mitchell said. “We play two periods well and we’re scoring the first goal or getting off to good starts and we just can’t build on it right now.”
As daunting as the losing streak may be, the players are focusing on moving on to the next game.
“I think we need to stay positive and just keep approaching every game like we think we’re going to win the game,” goaltender Jhonas Enroth, who made 31 saves, said. “We can’t go into the game thinking that we’re going to lose again. We have to stay positive and still believe that we can win games.”
Buffalo held a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal from Tyler Myers, but the Oilers answered with a pair of goals in the first and another in the third. Rasmus Ristolainen scored with 2:02 remaining to put Buffalo within striking distance, but they were never really able to threaten after that.
Myers opened the scoring for Buffalo 2:22 in, jumping into the play after Brian Gionta and Torrey Mitchell established a hard forecheck behind the net. Mitchell collected a loose puck and sent it out to the right point, where Myers was able to one-time it past Ben Scrivens.
Buffalo’s lead wouldn’t last long however, as Edmonton tied it with 7:31 remaining in the first on a goal from Matt Fraser. The Oilers took the lead 2:35 later when through a screen, Oscar Klefbom’s shot from the left point beat Enroth.
A bad change cost Buffalo for Edmonton’s third goal. As Buffalo players scurried to the bench, Edmonton broke out on a rush with Anton Lander scoring to make it 3-1. Lander finished with a goal and three assists.
“What can you do? The mental mistakes, the change that happened,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “I mean, the puck was going right to one of our forwards. He goes the opposite way. He should’ve went into the puck; he goes away from the puck. They stopped. Our defense thought they were going to change. I thought we had good possession of it, which we should’ve. And we didn’t. So those things kill us all the time.”
‘WE HAD OUR CHANCES’
The line of Mitchell, Brian Gionta and Brian Flynn generated some of Buffalo’s best chances of the night. They helped set up the first goal and on the second goal, Ristolainen cashed in on a rebound from a shot by Gionta.
With five minutes to play, Buffalo was outshot 7-1 in the third period. The final shot totals favored Edmonton 34-20.
“We had our chances and with this team, we need everyone,” Nolan said. “We can’t afford two or three guys not playing well or [not] giving what they have to give. It just seems like the same ones over and over again. We only have 20 players. Who else are you going to put in?”
However, the positives are severely outweighed by the negatives.
“The difference is small mistakes. Bad changes, inopportune turnovers that lead to rushes when we’re trying to get guys off, those little mistakes,” Gionta said. “Our effort’s there but we’ve got to start thinking the game more and start executing more.”
When it comes to line changes, Gionta said it comes down to personal responsibility.
“It’s guys committing to it. Guys getting off earlier, being a little more selfless and making sure they’re not putting the guy behind them in a bad position,” he said.
With 5:04 remaining, Myers blocked a shot by Matt Fraser off the inside of his left ankle. He left the game after being helped off the ice and did not return. Nolan said after the game that Myers should be fine to play Friday night against the Vancouver Canucks.
Puck drop is scheduled for 10 p.m. EST with the Tops Gamenight pregame show beginning at 9:30 p.m. on MSG-B and Bell. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
“As hard as it is right now, as frustrating as this is, tomorrow we have to get ourselves refreshed, come with the right mindset and understand that we can’t make these mental errors,” alternate captain Josh Gorges said. “We can’t keep beating ourselves. Even if we play a great hockey game without beating ourselves, it’s going to be a tough night to win tomorrow night.
“But we have to face reality and these mistakes that we continually make, we have to eliminate them. We have to play with confidence and not play scared to lose.”