"We've been finding ways to win games and it hasn't been easy with the number of injuries we've had to endure," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff, whose team hadn't been shutout at home since April 2, 2004. "We got down right off the bat and we were a sluggish team.
"Our feet were numb, it ran up into our hands and I think it got between our ears for a while. They were the better team."
The victory was San Jose's first in franchise history in Buffalo and snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Sabres.
"They beat us to every puck and every battle on the walls," said Ruff. "Our coverage was poor, which it hasn't been typically."
"Nothing really positive came out of the game," said Sabres center Tim Connolly. "There was nothing that we did well."
It was also the first loss the Sabres had suffered during regulation in 10 games, while the five-goal differential was the largest of the season, excluding Buffalo's three meetings with the Ottawa Senators.
Mika Noronen made his first start in goal since the November 22, but was replaced by Martin Biron eleven minutes into the first period after allowing four goals off 11 shots.
"When you play that poorly, you've got to count on our goaltender to be fabulous for you," said Ruff. "You can't say (Noronen) allowed bad goals. They were point-blank shots. We didn't give him a chance to get into the game."
"It was a tough start," said Noronen. "I really wanted to play better at the start and give us a chance. When it's 4-0 after 10 minutes, there's nothing you can do about it after that."
Biron finished the game making 15 saves.
"There was nothing they could do," said Connolly of Biron and Noronen. "One-timers from the middle of the hash mark, the goaltender is a sitting duck."
Joe Thornton made his debut in a Sharks uniform in style, setting up two goals and creating a slew of scoring opportunities. He set the tone of the game in his first shift ringing a shot off the right post.
"I think that (trade) had a big effect," said Ruff. "San Jose had a pretty good setup, waiting for us here and us coming in last night. That trade gave them a lot of momentum right off the bat and they were pretty fired up."
Despite only having a single practice with his new team, the 6'4, 223-pound center was the general San Jose's power play, which was 1-6 in the game.
San Jose right wing Jonathan Cheechoo led all scorers with a pair of goals.
The Sabres will continue to tour the Western Conference as they travel to Colorado on Sunday to face the Avalanche in the Pepsi Center at 9:00 PM.
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| Shift Chart GAME BLOG:
0-1 (4:16): Grant Stevenson collects his own rebound and flips a backhand over Mika Noronen. The goal is Stevenson's second of the season. Patrick Marleau and Milan Michalek record the assists.
0-2 (5:10): Less than a minute later, Joe Thornton flips the puck to Jonathon Cheechoo, who one-times the puck into the top left corner of the net. The goal is Cheechoo's eighth of the season. Thornton and Christian Ehrhoff
record the assists.
0-3 (6:18): Milan Michalek one-times a puck from the right wing high over Mika Noronen for his third goal of the season. Grant Stevenson and Patrick Marleau record their second point of the game with the assists.
0-4 (11:26) Niko Dimitrakos snaps a wristshot over Mika Noronen to extend San Jose's lead to four. Josh Langfeld and Alyn McCauley get the helpers. Martin Biron replaces Noronen in goal for Buffalo.
0-5 (2:09): Jonathon Cheechoo scores his second of the game on the power play. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau get the helpers. The goal is the first scored on Martin Biron tonight.