The Buffalo Sabres just can't seem to put everything together.
The beginning of 2014 (actually going back to Dec. 29) saw the Sabres go six straight games scoring two or fewer goals. The won two of these.
In their last five games, Buffalo has scored three goals per game. They've won none of those games.
That's because Buffalo has surrendered at least four goals each time, including five in Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Sabres fell apart defensively in the third period, allowing three straight goals to take yet another defeat.
Goaltending has played a part, but that doesn't explain everything. Both Jhonas Enroth – who's lost twice since declaring Jan. 9 "It's tough to win with this team" – and Ryan Miller have taken multiple defeats during this five-game losing streak. Enroth gave up a weak goal to Andrej Sekera on Thursday, but the defense also committed several costly turnovers and pretty much stood and watched Alex Semin score his first goal on a rush from center ice.
"If you're standing still at the blue line giving it to the opposition, it's not going to turn out well," coach Ted Nolan said.
The Sabres played two good periods Thursday before falling flat in the final stanza. They performed similarly Tuesday in losing to the Florida Panthers, sleepwalking through the second period – but Miller also fell flat, allowing four goals on a paltry 22 shots.
Such efforts are wasting a slowly improving offense. The 15 goals Buffalo has in its last five games is a season high for any five-game stretch. That the effort has yielded no wins is a testament to the club's inability to develop any sort of consistency.
"It's 60 minutes that we're not playing right now," Brian Flynn said. "We're playing two of three periods."
Such lapses will do the Sabres no good in the tough stretch they have coming up. They travel to the red-hot Columbus Jackets on Saturday, then will be in Pittsburgh on Monday and back home against Washington on Tuesday before starting a brief West Coast swing. With those high-powered offenses looking across at them in the coming games, Buffalo needs to tighten up its defensive play quickly if it hopes to end this streak at any point before the Olympic break next month.
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