Winger Daniel Paille was one of several Buffalo Sabres forwards frustrated by their performance in Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues in HSBC Arena. Shifts were too long, turnovers were too numerous and a two-goal lead was frittered away for the first time all season.
Paille was on the ice for two St. Louis goals, including Brad Boyes' game-winner with 57.5 seconds left. It came a few seconds after Paille's miraculous midair swipe that took the puck out of harm's way.
It was a rare night for Paille, who has taken limited ice time and run with it to become Buffalo's plus-minus leader at plus-6.
"There will be some nights like that," Paille said after practice Thursday in the arena. "I've got to forget about how that goes and try to focus on the right things. Even in the first period of that game, we were kind of sloppy. We have two days to recuperate [before Saturday's home game against Carolina], have good practices and learn from our mistakes."
In his first year of full NHL duty, the 23-year-old has been one of the Sabres' pleasant surprises. Paille has five goals and six assists while playing with various linemates and has also seen duty on Buffalo's penalty-killing unit.
"He's got a lot more confidence in himself," said Andrew Peters, a Paille linemate from time to time who's a fellow native of the Welland-St. Catharines, Ont., region. "The experience he had here last year helps and you carry your experience on. He's playing with confidence with the puck, killing penalties, really doing a nice job.
"Some people can take confidence and turn it around to think he's cocky. He's not that. He's the exact opposite. He's very modest, down to earth. But when it comes time to play, he's comfortable on the ice and very sure of himself out there. He's been keeping his game simple."
Coach Lindy Ruff certainly wasn't indicting Paille for Wednesday's performance.
"Danny has given us real good play, real good energy," Ruff said. "He's been in on a lot of our goals for and done a good job penalty killing. We talked about a couple situations [against St. Louis]. He was disappointed in a couple of the plays. But if he doesn't bat the one out of the air, we're down even before it gets to that point."
Paille, Buffalo's second first-round choice in the 2002 draft, has been a physical presence in the corners. Along with Paul Gaustad and Michael Ryan, he's been among the Sabres' more aggressive forwards in recent games.
"I really strive to be an energy guy and do what I can to help the team in that area," he said. "Being physical is something that I really want to do. As far as goals, some breaks have been going good so far and I hope they can continue throughout the season."
The Sabres had a brief 40-minute workout Thursday, spending more time off the ice watching video of the St. Louis game than on the ice preparing for Saturday's contest. Wednesday's loss ended a five-game winning streak.
"You just get up and move on," said goaltender Ryan Miller. "Part of our development will be forgiving ourselves and moving forward. We're going to have to learn how to regroup and come back."
Ruff hopes his team learns about not overextending shifts, which he said caused a lack of energy from the forwards.
"Sometimes we ended up with the puck and thought we'll take one more crack at it so instead of a 40-second shift, it turned into a minute and 10 [seconds]," Ruff said. "Once you lose it in the offensive zone, you can't come off, which means some of those shifts got even longer.
"We've been pretty good. It's really the first time we fell off the wagon with that one."