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It's too bad the compressors in Le Colisee didn't break down Saturday night.

If a team is going to go into the tank there should be something liquid there in which to drown their sorrows.

As it was, the Sabres came away drenched only in embarrassment.

For the third time in as many meetings with the league's worst team, the Sabres failed to win anything (0-2-1). This time they lost, 4-2, in front of 13,324 fans who have now laughed at them on most every appearance here for over a decade.

Saturday it was easy to laugh with them.

However, Sabres coach Rick Dudley was not nearly as hard on his team.

"We didn't score and they did," Dudley said. "The kid (goaltender Ron Tugnutt) is good, but we also let him be good. If you don't get people in front of him he's going to do the job. I'm sure that's what Boston does."

After taking a 1-0 lead off a goal by Christian Ruuttu, the Sabres gave up a goal to former Sabre Tony McKegney and a natural hat trick to defenseman Bryan Fogarty to fall behind 4-1.

Buffalo got back to within two when Mike Hartman scored a power play goal midway through the third period, but by then it was once again too little, too late. They did start a ruckus at the end of the game, but only after the Nordiques and their fans openly mocked them. All in all it was a disgrace.

For most of the game Buffalo refused to hit, check and, at times, even skate with the Nordiques. The Sabres never pressured the Nordiques' suspect defense or goaltending and seldom got beyond their young and inexperienced forwards.

Meanwhile Fogarty became the first defenseman in the history of the Nordiques to score three goals in one game, but it wasn't so much his unique talents (he had two goals in his previous 21 games) as the Sabres inept play that contributed to his claiming a bit of history.

He scored once when Sabres goaltender Clint Malarchuk was screened and the Sabres failed to cover both the point and the net. He scored again when he rushed in untouched from 60 feet away and scored a third time when the Sabres gave up an uncontested shot from the point after losing the faceoff in their own zone.

Buffalo did get a strong effort from Ruuttu and linemate Dave Snuggerud, Dale Hawerchuk and defenseman Grant Ledyard, but precious little from its supposed offensive guns.

However, Dudley singled out Hartman as one of the few players who repeatedly went to the net.

"When Hartman was out there they couldn't handle him, and you would think others (players) would feed off that," he said.

The Sabres lost Pierre Turgeon at the start of the third period. Turgeon said he twisted his knee late in the second period.

"It's just a twist," he said. "I don't think it's anything serious."

The three stars went in order to Fogarty, Tugnutt and left wing Claude Loiselle.

The Sabres moved to a 1-0 lead early in the first period, but a miscue in their own end led to Quebec's equalizer and the two teams left the ice tied, 1-1, after 20 minutes.

Ruuttu got Buffalo on the board with his fourth goal of the season. He started and finished his own play, taking the puck in and then dishing off to trailer Snuggerud. Snuggerud passed back to Andreychuk, who was coming up the slot. Tugnutt stopped Andreychuk's shot, but Ruuttu positioned himself at the crease and was able to tap home the rebound at 1:33.

It was another short lead for the Sabres, however, as McKegney scored his 10th of the season at 3:09. This was a gift from Turgeon, who backhanded a pass directly onto McKegney's stick while in the Buffalo zone.

The Sabres got worse in the second period, giving up two goals in 35 seconds and narrowly averting a third when captain Mike Foligno "inadvertently" knocked the net off its moorings. The Nordiques looked a lot better.

Fogarty started the snowball downhill when he fired a long, low drive from the left point. No Sabre was in sight, making it easy for McKegney to screen Malarchuk who, despite going down to look beyond the Quebec forward, never did get an eye on the shot. Shortly thereafter, Fogarty came right back with an easy tap-in to an open net after he went 60 feet to the doorstep to poke the puck in the net.

Malarchuk had squared for shooter Stephane Morin at the post, but Morin passed out to Fogarty, who was in behind Alexander Mogilny.

With the Sabres now in complete disarray, Foligno at least saved the embarrassment of giving up three goals in just over a minute. Quebec entered the Sabres zone with a three-on-one break when Foligno came back and dislodged the net just before Paul Gillis' shot crossed the goal line.

Quebec fans and players were screaming for a penalty shot, but referee Paul Stewart apparently invoked a mercy rule and chose only to send Foligno off for two minutes for dislodging the net.

It was justice served in that it forced the Sabres to work to avoid yet another goal, rather than simply have Malarchuk save them.

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