When the Sabres had energy, they lacked killer instinct and scoring touch. When they ran out of energy, they had no chance.
Buffalo's early season slide continued Sunday with a 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers. The Sabres have won just once in the last seven games, the third season in a row they've struggled out of the starting gate.
They rebounded the previous two seasons by committing to team defense, and goaltender Ryan Miller wishes they had stored those rallies in their memory bank.
"It's pretty obvious we didn't take into consideration any of the lessons we learned last year," Miller said. "It's pretty plain and simple. It's one thing to try and open up the game. It's another to have control of the puck and try to play a system. If you try and open it up, you're going to get in trouble. Try and play risky, you get in trouble."
Most of the 18,831 who came to First Niagara Center got an early start toward their Super Bowl parties by filing out during the Sabres' listless third period. They booed as they exited.
"We've got to pick it up, and pick it up quick," left wing Marcus Foligno said.
The Sabres opened a 3-1 lead against Florida but didn't have the stamina to maintain it. They did, however, have opportunities to extend it. They couldn't as numerous players failed in their attempts to make it 4-1.
"We had our opportunities in the second period to put them away," coach Lindy Ruff said.
Playing on back-to-back afternoons and for the third time in four days, Buffalo soon ran out of energy. The listlessness started showing late in the second period, and the Sabres had nothing for the third. The result was predictable as the Panthers, who last played on Thursday, pounced.
The Panthers tied the game before the second period ended, and old friend Brian Campbell scored the winner midway through the third. Tomas Kopecky lost the puck near the Buffalo net on a power play, but Campbell pinched from the blue line to rip it home with 10:33 to go.
Sabres let Panthers off the hook
Buffalo News | Feb 4