Sabres' deteriorating season crumbles further - The Buffalo News

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Sabres' deteriorating season crumbles further

Jack Eichel recorded three points. He would have needed seven.

Evander Kane scored his 24th goal. He would have needed Nos. 25, 26, 27 and 28.

The Sabres continue to put up impressive individual numbers, but they mean little. The team can’t win.

Buffalo’s rapidly deteriorating season crumbled further Tuesday with a 6-3 loss to Philadelphia. The only solace for the fans, most of whom departed KeyBank Center long before the buzzer, is that only 15 games remain.

“You can clearly hear the disappointment in the building,” goaltender Robin Lehner said. “It’s been a long season. It’s disappointing where we are.”

Where the Sabres are is where they were last season. Provided they can slow this 1-5-2 slide, they’re on pace for 81 points. That’s the same total they had last year.

That’s not progress.

“I don’t even know if you can pinpoint one thing on where it all went wrong,” defenseman Zach Bogosian said about the game, though he may as well have been talking about the entire season.

The yearlong problems remained Tuesday:

*The Sabres got smoked during the second period, giving up three goals as a 1-1 tie turned into a 4-2 deficit.

*They didn’t get big saves when needed, then bad bounces followed.

*They treated the puck like it was their worst enemy, repeatedly handing it to the Flyers for goals.

“This was not a fun game,” Lehner said.

The turnover that clearly irked coach Dan Bylsma most was a first-period mistake by Eichel. The center had two goals and an assist, eclipsing 100 career points in just 127 games, but the Flyers opened the scoring after he tried to skate between three players.

It was the type of shinny hockey Bylsma spoke out against Monday.

“Talking about not being ready to play, our puck management there, we’re trying go through three guys, one-on-three in the neutral zone, it gets turned over and goes into the D-zone,” Bylsma said. “They get the first one, the tip goal, as the result of exactly that.”

The Sabres’ power play kept them alive for a little while. It struck on its opening two chances, tying the game both times, and improved to an NHL-best 23.4 percent.

But the Flyers scored the next four goals to open a 6-2 lead.

“We can’t live and die by the power play,” defenseman Cody Franson said. “We’ve got to be better five-on-five. We’ve got to manage the puck better, not give up as much and be a little more opportunistic.

“Instead of playing loose and trying to generate something, I think if we pull the reins back on ourselves a little bit, play a little bit better positionally and a little more patient, I think we’ll give ourselves a better chance to be on the right side of the puck more often.”

The Sabres have given up 33 goals during the eight-game skid, an average of 4.1 per game. So even though Eichel extended his point streak to 11 games and Kane scored for the 10th time in 14 outings, Buffalo can’t keep up.

“It’s frustrating to go through this,” said Lehner, who had two shots from the right circle go over his left shoulder. “We’ve all got to be better. It’s not one guy or two guys. It’s a team game. We talk about a lot of different things. I’ve got to come up with a save.

“You’re going to have games like this. It’s just terrible timing.”

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