Henrik Tallinder sounded disgusted. Or at least disgruntled.
The 12-year NHL veteran who returned to the Buffalo Sabres in the offseason was blunt with his assessment of the team’s performance after a 6-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks Saturday.
The Sabres came out playing the way they wanted – solid with high energy and even shots on goal. They even took a 1-0 lead in the second period with a pretty power-play goal.
But when the Ducks struck twice within 34 seconds to take a 3-1 lead, all the gas seemed to go out of the engine. Again.
“This is a team game. You have to support each other,” Tallinder said. “This is a game of mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. When the mistake is made, what are you gonna do about it? Guys, you have to have teammates who support you. If the mistake is made, another guy is going to be there to support you. We’re not doing it consistently for 60 minutes.
“We beat ourselves. ... We get scored on and ‘oh my god, it’s happening again.’ And then they score another quick one. I mean come on. This is NHL.”
After a spirited first period, which saw the Sabres even with the Ducks in shots on goal, Buffalo took a 1-0 lead at 7:15 of the second.
On the power play, the Sabres worked the zone. Matt Moulson passed the puck out from behind the net and hit an open Cody Hodgson, who snapped the puck past Jonas Hiller.
The last time the Sabres scored first was against Tampa Bay on Oct. 8 at First Niagara Center.
The lead was short-lived though as 2:27 later Anaheim rushed the Buffalo zone and Ryan Getzlaf tipped the puck past Jhonas Enroth.
Then came the meltdown. At 15:18, Sami Vatanen snapped a shot past a screened Enroth. Then 34 seconds later, Emerson Etem put away a rebound.
At the end of the second, Anaheim had outscored Buffalo, 3-1, and outshot them, 14-5.
“We played exactly how we wanted to play in the first,” Moulson said. “They scored one goal in the second then all of a sudden they get two and we got away from our game a bit. I think that’s something that comes with maturing as players and as a team. You can’t get down or get unfocused when a goal gets in. Some of the best players in the world play in this league and they’re going to score goals. You’ve got to find a way to bounce back. Obviously mistakes are going to be made throughout the game but we have to find a way to bring that level of compete we had in the first period for 60 minutes.”
Things got worse for the Sabres early in the third when the Ducks again scored quickly – this time 39 seconds apart on goals from Corey Perry and Etem – giving Anaheim a 5-1 lead.
The Sabres picked up their play with their backs against the wall. Tallinder’s shot from the blue line made it past Hiller to cut the lead to 5-2. It was Tallinder’s first goal since March 31, 2010 against Florida. With 5:01 left, Tyler Myers netted his first of the year to make it 5-3.
But again, the Ducks had a quick response. Perry scored his second of the game just 23 seconds later on a breakaway.
“That span in the second period overall hurt us tonight,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said. “I think it was the two goals that got us back on our heels and we didn’t go back to executing like we did early on until later in the game at 5-1 we started going back to the blueprint in the first period and starting getting some momentum again.”
Jamie McBain and Mikhail Grigorenko were scratched for the Sabres along with John Scott, who was serving the fifth game of his seven-game suspension.
It was just the third time Grigorenko has been a scratch this season. The 19-year old has played in 13 games for the Sabres. He has one assist and is a minus-3.
Spending time out of the lineup is something that Sabres coach Ron Rolston said is part of the plan with the younger players.
“I think you’re going to see a lot of that from our younger guys. They’ll probably be in at times and out at times,” Rolston said. “I think you’re going to see that where they come out, get some perspective and go back in. It’s part of the development process of those younger players, just to be in a couple, maybe have to sit out and get some perspective and then get back in there. Hopefully, from there continue to improve their game.”
Scott, serving the fifth game of his seven-game suspension for his hit on Boston’s Loui Eriksson, said he will not appeal the decision.
“I’m just going to stick with what the league gave me,” Scott said. “Hopefully, the issue will die and we can move on from there.”
But Scott was not happy with the way the hit was portrayed by NBCSN television announcer Pierre McGuire during the national broadcast on Oct. 23.
“I don’t think it was a late hit at all,” Scott said. “I think Pierre McGuire shooting his mouth off right after the hit kind of got that in a lot of people’s minds. He went from, ‘It’s a late hit, it’s an elbow, it’s a high hit, it’s a dirty hit.’ He kind of was just throwing out all these different things just hopefully one will stick. It wasn’t a late hit. It was just kind of an unfortunate circumstance.”
The Sabres are offering a special ticket package to honor members of the Armed Forces during the Nov. 12 games against Los Angeles. Veterans can purchase 300 Level II tickets for $20.
Tickets are available at www.sabres.com or by calling 1-888-GO-SABRES.