NEWARK, N.J. – The Sabres didn’t like some of the penalties they got. They may have an argument. They didn’t like that New Jersey got away with apparent penalties. Again, it may be a legitimate beef.
But as Robin Lehner aptly pointed out Monday night, that’s not why the Sabres lost to New Jersey, 2-1.
“We didn’t calls today – not that that was an excuse because I think we had a poor game,” the goaltender said.
Indeed, the Sabres again flopped after a big victory. New Jersey outshot the Sabres, 39-23, and that’s a solid indicator of how lopsided it was.
“We didn’t have any chances, not from what I saw at least,” Lehner said in Prudential Center. “As I’ve said, as we’ve said, it’s up to us in this room to get things going. We didn’t get things going.”
The Sabres took just six shots in the opening period. They took just six in the third, getting their lone goal when Tyler Ennis’ last-ditch spin and shoot slipped between Cory Schneider’s pads.
“None of them were anything dangerous,” Lehner said. “Even the goal was kind of lucky. It’s not the push we want.”
Meanwhile, the Sabres let the Devils swarm Lehner and the Buffalo net.
“In the second period I feel like I saw a lot of – forget scoring chances – a lot of Grade A chances,” Lehner said. “They kind of took over in the second. Again, it’s not how we want to play.”
Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma credited the Devils with nine scoring chances and six Grade A opportunities during the second period.
“We put too much on Lenny’s shoulders,” Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons said.
It should definitely be noted that both of New Jersey’s goals and 14 of its shots came during four power plays. The Sabres, meanwhile, had one shot on one power play. They didn’t have any power plays during Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Ottawa.
“We’ve got one power play over the last two games,” center Jack Eichel said to no one in particular from his locker stall. “Are you telling me they didn’t have anything to call?”
The Sabres’ power play ranks fifth in the NHL at 22.1 percent, so maybe a chance would have made a difference. Buffalo didn’t do enough to earn another chance.
“We didn’t generate a lot of offense,” Bylsma said. “We didn’t generate a lot of things. We didn’t get a lot of power plays in the game. On the one opportunity we had, I don’t think we did a good job of taking the chances that were there for us.
“They really did a good job in the second period of hemming us in. We played a lot of D-zone against them in that stretch of time.”
The turning point during the second was a four-minute roughing penalty to Evander Kane. The Sabres left winger started a scrum after watching Girgensons absorb a helmet-losing hit. Those ruckuses usually end up with an even number of penalties, but Buffalo got an extra one.
New Jersey took advantage to open the scoring.
“I don’t necessarily agree with all the calls,” Bylsma said.
After Ennis tied it with 11:21 to play, Kane again went to the box for high-sticking Taylor Hall. The Devils took advantage with 7:27 left.
“PK can give you momentum or it can kill your momentum,” Girgensons said. “We’ve just got to bear down on the PK and be better.”
They’ve got to be better everywhere. It starts with Tuesday’s home game against San Jose.
“I don’t think we played that well,” Lehner said. “We’ve got to keep taking a look at our game and get better.”