Only five home games remain for the Buffalo Sabres. The players and fans hope they are more memorable than the last one.
The Sabres went scoreless for the final 58 minutes Tuesday night as Nashville left First Niagara Center with a mundane 4-1 victory. It was the third straight loss for the Sabres, who have won just six times in the last 21 games. The Sabres’ Drew Stafford, playing his 500th game, scored 2:09 in, but that was the only notable highlight for the home team.
“We came out flying,” said Sabres forward Matt Ellis, who played his 300th NHL game. “We had some good spurts. The trend with our team is we have some real good spells, and then we put ourselves in trouble or shoot ourselves in the foot, whether it be a bad penalty or a missed assignment. “We did certain things to let them take over the hockey game. That’s why we’re kind of sitting here trying to figure out what went wrong.”
Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth finished with 20 saves. He had a save percentage of .935 during his first five starts with Ryan Miller gone, but the Predators’ sharp-shooting ability left him with just a .750 save percentage through two periods Tuesday.
“We didn’t really battle that hard,” Enroth said. “We’ve got to battle harder. We’ve got to really dig in. That’s how we’re going to earn points in this league.”
After getting beat early by Stafford, Nashville goalie Carter Hutton finished with 24 stops on 25 shots. He didn’t need to make many big saves as the Sabres deflated when Nashville added to its lead. The Predators tied the game late in the first period, then scored twice on five shots during the middle frame. “Their confidence is a little rattled right now,” coach Ted Nolan said of his Buffalo squad.
The Sabres fly south today for Thursday’s game in Carolina against the Hurricanes. They visit the Islanders on Saturday night. Montreal comes to Buffalo on Sunday.
The NHL’s general managers met in Florida to talk about what the game should look like next season. Aside from faceoffs, it’ll look pretty much the same.
The GMs have decided against any big changes. The most radical suggestion was to add three-on-three to overtime if no goals were scored four-on-four, but it failed to receive support. The big takeaway from this meeting is I think the managers are really happy with where the game is right now,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told reporters in Boca Raton, Fla. The GMs will make three formal proposals to the Competition Committee, a group of executives and players that will meet in June:
• Move the hash marks on the faceoff circles from 3 feet apart to 5 feet.
“That eliminates the scrum along the boards and allows the quicker player to get to the puck and generate scoring opportunities,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said.
• Rather than remove a player from a faceoff for a violation, the linesmen would force the offending center to stand at least 12 inches from the dot. If the player commits a second violation, he would be penalized.
• Teams would switch ends for overtime, which would force “long changes.”
More goals are scored during the second period than any other, and that is the period when the teams’ benches are farthest away from their net. The GMs feel long changes during OT would result in more scoring.