The Buffalo Sabres were behind the eight ball from the very start Monday afternoon. A hooking penalty called on Andre Benoit just 16 seconds into the game set up the first of six power plays for the Anaheim Ducks at First Niagara Center.
Buffalo was called for four minor penalties in the first period, culminating in one Ducks goal. Anaheim spent 5:53 on the power play in the opening period and put nine shots on net. Buffalo was outshot 17-3 in the first 20 minutes.
Anaheim ended up with a total of 9:51 on the man advantage. The Sabres power play went 0-for-3.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Sabres captain Brian Gionta said. “You spend that much time in your own end – the first period we spent half the period on the penalty kill – you tax too many guys, you give them too many opportunities and they’re just going to wear you down. That’s what we did, took too many penalties early on.”
The Ducks used that momentum and extended zone time to power their way to a 5-1 victory. Rookie William Karlsson scored twice – the first goals of his NHL career – and Frederik Andersen needed to make just 11 saves to pick up the win in net. Over the course of the game, Anaheim outshot the Sabres 44-12.
Tyler Ennis was Buffalo’s lone goal scorer. He’s now scored in consecutive games.
ROUNDS OF SHOTS
Michal Neuvirth started in goal, his first regular-season game since March 13 in which he made 51 saves. He was pretty busy Monday afternoon as well, stopping 39 shots, including 16 in the first period alone.
“It was a tough game, a tough one to swallow,” Neuvirth said. “It’s a pretty good team over there, one of the best in the NHL.”
The Sabres weren’t able to generate much of anything offensively. Most of their chances either went wide or were blocked. Buffalo became the second team to be outshot by 32 this season, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The other was Colorado in a 5-0 loss to Minnesota on Thursday.
“They were two steps ahead and we were trying to catch up,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “[We were] out of position, not strong enough, not committed enough, not smart enough. No desperation – that’s the bottom line. To me, that’s probably the most frustrating [thing].”
WHO SCORED AND WHEN
Corey Perry opened the scoring during Anaheim’s fourth power-play opportunity with 5:30 to play in the first period. Karlsson netted his first 8:15 into the second to make it 2-0.
The Ducks then came out strong in the third, scoring two quick goals. Matt Belesky scored 2:56 into the final frame and Karlsson added his second of the night at the 3:14 mark.
Ennis made it 4-1 when he took a behind-the-net pass from Matt Moulson and scored short side 6:36 into the third.
Ducks forward Ryan Kelser capped off the scoring when he converted on a penalty shot with 7:35 remainng in the final period.
It was the first successful penalty shot against the Sabres since Chris Kunitz beat Jhonas Enroth on Oct. 5, 2013. Neuvirth stopped Sean Bergenheim on the last attempt against the Sabres on March 7 in Florida.
A NETWORK GAME NEXT
The Sabres have little time to dwell on the loss. They face the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, North Carolina on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN, WGR 550)
“We need to get mad. We need to get angry,” Ennis said. “We need to play really hard tomorrow and we’re going to. We’re going to head into Carolina and we’re going to play really competitive hockey, stay out of the box but we need one tomorrow for sure.”
Marcus Foligno missed the game due to injury. Brian Flynn made his season debut in his place. Before the game, Nolan hoped Foligno would be ready for Carolina.
He also hinted at changes, particularly on defense. He mentioned the same after the loss in Chicago, but decided to give his six defensemen another opportunity.
“I mentioned to the guys yesterday, ‘Don’t confuse my patience with avoidance. Never do that,’” Nolan said. “It’s very frustrating to say the least, but we’ll sort this out and find out who really actually wants to play. If we have to play two lines and four defense, so be it.”
Defensemen Tyson Strachan and Nikita Zadorov have been healthy scratches through the first three games. Mark Pysyk and Jake McCabe are currently on injured reserve but both could be close to returning.