WINNIPEG -- Ralph Krueger said his team is looking the reality of its road trip right in the eyes.
The Buffalo Sabres will return home with no points to show for their four-game western swing following a 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place on Tuesday, a disappointing outcome for a team that left Buffalo last Tuesday having won five of its last six contests.
Krueger acknowledged that disappointment, as did each player who spoke to the media following the loss. But they also remained focused on how they need to move forward through the final month of the season, beginning with another difficult matchup at home against Pittsburgh in two days.
"We're not happy with that," Krueger said. "We're going home grumpy and upset but we also played some really good periods. We are a group in growth. We are a group with some amazing fightback. These guys just don't quit, which I'm pleased about.
"How we keep it positive is with a lot of communication and right back to work tomorrow. Let's think about the things we can do, we can improve, and we need to react at home in front of our home crowd against Pittsburgh on Thursday."
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Each game on the road trip had moments where it was up for grabs. The Sabres were tied entering the third periods of the first two games in Colorado and Las Vegas. They saw a 2-0 lead slip in Arizona.
Though they never actually led in Winnipeg, the chances were there. The Sabres earned two power plays in the first period but were unsuccessful on both.
Kyle Connor opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 rush with 6:50 remaining in the first period, then fed Tucker Poolman for a shorthanded goal to make it 2-0 than three minutes later. Connor buried a rebound on the Jets' first power play of the night to make it 3-0 early in the second.
Rasmus Ristolainen scored Buffalo's lone goal of the game with 9:36 left before the second intermission.
"We dug a hole, but I have to say the guys really fought," Krueger said. "They worked hard. Winnipeg had a lot of trouble with certain phases of the game after that. We just couldn't bury another chance. We could have used an early one in the third to really make a game of it.
"So, another game with a great effort and a lot of work but no points so it's painful at the moment but can't really be upset with the effort. We've got to be upset with the way we managed the game and the storyline. We got to work to change that."
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The Sabres now sit 12 points out of a playoff spot with 16 games remaining. Krueger said every one of those games will be treated as another important step in the team's development.
"It is quite unfathomable to be standing here after an 0-4 road trip like this especially with how good we were playing going into it," alternate captain Jake McCabe said. "So, with that being said, just kind of grab onto those small details and just keep working every single night and just keep growing this culture that Ralph has created for us here.
"I know we don't have a quit in this group. Everyone's going to be still working hard right until the end. That's very crucial here going through March."
The Sabres return home to conclude their season series with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. Coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m. You can also listen live on WGR 550 with puck drop set for 7.