In a season in which they've won once and scored a total of 10 goals in nine games, Buffalo still set a low mark in Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. The Sabres gave up eight shots in the first two minutes and showed very little life, only offering a handful of serious offensive threats among their 25 shots.
For the year, Buffalo has now been outscored 11-1 in the first period. When asked if the Sabres need to figure out a new method of starting games, coach Ron Rolston replied: "Yeah, apparently we do." Center Cody Hodgson agreed, saying the team's lack of efficiency is hurting its chances:
"We want better starts … We're just not sharp. We're putting passes that should be on the tape, we're putting them a foot away, and then they get the puck back and they come back at us again. It's like we just handed them back the game."
Indeed, multiple Buffalo opportunities were squandered Thursday by bad passing. Poor passing on the first power play led to a shorthanded Canucks goal in the second period. And Buffalo's third-period power play was ruined by defensemen too squeamish to shoot. Marcus Foligno had the puck in the slot on that power but instead passed it to empty space along the boards. And an odd-man rush later in the game went for naught when the puck missed its intended target by a couple feet and skidded harmlessly back to center ice.
The Sabres have yet to win this season at home and have been shut out twice. They've held a lead for about five minutes all year and have had several efforts that made last season's lackluster start – which led to coach Lindy Ruff's firing – look championship-worthy. They've been outshot in all but one game, stand around too much on defense and refuse to pepper opposing goalies with shots, looking instead for passes they're unable to complete.
But still, an effort like Thursday's was especially disappointing considering the team was coming off its first win Tuesday over the Islanders.
"It's frustrating. We had a lot of reasons to build off last game, as we just came out flat," Thomas Vanek said. "Hopefully we can all earn from this."
Rolston chastized his team for talking so much about disappointment but not doing enough about it:
"Frustration is how they do it. If we don't play the right way, they're creating their own frustration. They've got to figure that out."
The Sabres get a break in the schedule after Saturday, when they host the red-hot Colorado Avalanche. They won't play again until hosting Boston on Wednesday, and then they play a Florida road swing. Rolston remained confident, despite his apparent anger, that the team will rebound:
"It's frustrating, but we'll get through it."
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