on December 5, 2013 - 10:11 PM
, updated December 6, 2013 at 12:17 AM
There’s really nothing new to say.
“Same problems, another day,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.
Buffalo lost again Thursday, this time dropping a 3-1 decision to the New York Rangers. The Sabres’ scoring woes were on full display, their special teams were shaky and the fans were bored.
In other words, Game 29 fit in with most of the opening 28.
“It’s frustrating,” forward Marcus Foligno said. “The work ethic is there, and the goals aren’t. It’s not like there’s lack of effort or we’re getting beat down. It’s just they’re burying goals and we’re not.”
Tyler Ennis spared the Sabres the indignity of getting blanked for the second straight game, scoring with 2:06 to play. He ended the team’s goal drought at 122 minutes, 14 seconds.
It was only the 46th time a Buffalo player has found the net. The Sabres average 1.59 goals per game, nearly half a goal lower than 29th-place Florida (2.11).
“There’s no one going to ride in here and fix it for us,” Nolan said. “We’ve got to fix it ourselves.”
Even the most diehard hockey fans had to have trouble staying alert Thursday. The fastest game on ice was a bogged-down mess most of the night.
The smartest fans were the ones who chose to leave rows of seats empty in First Niagara Center. The folks who did show up sat through 40 minutes of drudgery and 20 minutes of hit-and-miss action as the Sabres tried to break the shutout.
Buffalo took 14 of its 28 shots during the third period. Henrik Lundqvist made a couple of spectacular saves, but he didn’t need to make many.
“Lundqvist is one of the best goalies in the league, but usually you’re not going to win with one goal,” Ennis said. “You want to get at least 30 shots a game ideally, and we really haven’t hit that mark that much. We’re going to have to find a way to get more pucks to the net.”
The loss dropped the Sabres to 1-6-1 in their last eight games and 6-21-2 overall. They visit Atlantic Division-leading Montreal on Saturday.
“Not a lot of complaints here,” said goaltender Ryan Miller, who was upset with himself but not the team. “Better game than we saw early in the year.”
Anyone who showed up 17 minutes late missed a whole lot of nothing. The Sabres passed up their quality scoring chances, and the Rangers didn’t have many. The fans who came may as well have been mannequins based on the quiet inactivity.
Rick Nash woke folks from their slumber with a dazzling goal, one that put the Sabres in their customary 1-0 hole with 2:13 left. The former 40-goal scorer streaked down the left side, leaving Tyler Myers in his wake. Nash cut to the center, drawing Miller with him, then reached back to his left to tuck the puck between the goalie’s pad and the post.
It was the 24th time in the Sabres’ 29 games that the opponent scored first. Buffalo fell into a 34-6 hole during first periods this season.
“It’s between the ears,” Miller said. “We’ve got to shake it off at some point.”
The Rangers took an insurmountable 2-0 lead with 11:31 left. The power-play cycling of the puck ended with Brad Richards beating Miller from a sharp angle. Mats Zuccarello treated the remaining Rangers fans to another goal with 5:13 to play, putting a shot under Miller’s arm.
“In this league you’ve got to find ways to get pucks in the back of the net,” Sabres left wing Matt Moulson said. “We’re going to have to figure that out. ... We’ve got guys in here we can win games with. We just have to find a way out there.”