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Sabres unable to solve Bishop in loss to Stars

Buffalo generates 61 shot attempts in defeat

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

With Jack Eichel sidelined for the first game of a two-game suspension, the Sabres rallied to generate 61 shot attempts against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. 

For the second time this season, none of those attempts made it past Ben Bishop. 

Bishop earned his third straight shutout with a 35-save performance to lead the Stars to a 2-0 victory at KeyBank Center. The veteran goalie is now 12-0-1 with a .950 save percentage and three shutouts in his career against the Sabres, including one in Dallas earlier this season. 

"We could've gotten to the net a little bit more to try for a second or third opportunity," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "But we had guys around the net, we just never found the rebound. Not to make an excuse, we ran into a goaltender that's been playing terrific hockey right now.

"It's his third shutout in a row, so we got to find a way to make it difficult for the goaltenders. But I can't fault the way our guys worked hard."

Video: Condensed Game: Stars @ Sabres

Roope Hintz scored both goals for the Stars. Linus Ullmark stopped 25 shots for the Sabres.

It was the second straight shutout loss for the Sabres, but Housley said he saw a vast improvement in the way his team played compared to their 3-0 defeat in Colorado on Saturday. The Sabres generated just 18 shots and 38 attempts in that game. 

"We've just got to keep digging in here and working," Housley said. "We're going to break through. I really like the checking detail. I mean, we give a team 15 chances against, we're usually winning that game or going into overtime. It's just right now, this is where we're at as a group. We got to find a way to make it tougher on the goalies."

The Sabres nearly opened the scoring early in the second period when Jeff Skinner had a put-back attempt stuffed by Bishop, the first of two golden opportunities for the winger. He later rung a backhand shot off the crossbar. 

Skinner has now gone 12 games without finding the back of the net despite tallying 37 shots in that span.

"It's not a good feeling, but at the same time you have to stick with it and create some more," he said. "A couple nice plays on those chances. Just got to stick with it and they'll start going in."

Tage Thompson also saw his share of opportunities around the net during a four-shot performance, including a point-blank chance that got away from him in the first period and a breakaway that he was unable to elevate over Bishop's pad in the second. 
Despite the missed opportunities, Housley said he was pleased with the young winger's game.

"It happens sometimes," Thompson said. "It's frustrating not scoring, not finding the back of the net, but that's just something you've got to work through. You've got to find ways to help your team when you're not scoring so I've just got to focus on being solid defensively, winning my puck battles and doing anything I can to help the team." 

Hintz opened the scoring at 7:29 in the second period, collecting a rebound wide of the net and cutting in parallel to the goal line before picking the near-side corner from in tight. He added his second goal at 13:12 on a shot from the point with Dallas on the power play. 

The Sabres were 0-for-2 on the power play, which Thompson said could have been the difference.

"I think throughout the whole game we had our fair share of opportunities to score," he said. "It's just one of those nights where the puck's not bouncing your way sometimes. It came down to special teams and Dallas won. That's how it goes sometimes.

"I thought our effort was there, I thought our compete was there. As long as you're getting those chances, I think you're doing things right.


Nylander's debut

Video: POSTGAME: Nylander

Alexander Nylander made his season debut for the Sabres, tallying one shot on three attempts in 13:16 while skating primarily on a line with Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues. He also skated 1:00 on the power play. 

Nylander had scored goals in four straight games for Rochester prior to earning his first recall of the season on Sunday. 

"I think it got better and better," he said afterward. "It was a little different coming in this year than the past couple years, but I thought I got more and more comfortable each period. Now, I've just got to focus on tomorrow."


Injury report

Zach Bogosian skated 13:32 in the first two periods but did not return for the third. Housley did not have an update on the defenseman after the game.


Up next 

The Sabres host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. Coverage on MSG-B begins at 6:30 p.m., or you can listen live on WGR 550. The puck drops at 7. 

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