It's getting to the point where only veterans of the Buffalo Sabres' organization can remember when the team last won a preseason game against NHL competition.
The Sabres winless streak was extended to 13 games Tuesday night with a 3-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators. It was a dreary performance by Buffalo, which was outshot, 42-19.
"I'm very disappointed," coach Lindy Ruff said. "I didn't like any part of our game a lot. They didn't have an overpowering lineup up there. I thought the teams were fairly equal, but they beat us at every aspect of the game."
The Sabres' last NHL exhibition win came on Sept. 27, 1996, when they defeated the Washington Capitals in Charleston, S.C.
"We don't stress winning," said Ruff, who is still winless in preseason behind the Buffalo bench. "We stress the stuff that we believe is going to make us winners. That's the conditioning part of the game, the work, and playing with emotion.
"We don't want guys going through the motions, whether it's veteran players or younger players. Younger players want to make the team and make an impression, but I don't want veteran players taking a night off and having the younger players look bad because of that."
Ruff thought part of the problem was that the team was still tired from its European trip. He plans to have relatively light practices in the next couple of days.
The Sabres defeated Klagenfurt AC in an exhibition game at the start of the trip to Austria last week. The loss on Tuesday dropped Buffalo's "official" 1998 preseason record to 0-3.
The Sabres' first-round draft choice this past summer, Dimitri Kalinin, played in his first game in a Buffalo uniform Tuesday night.
Ottawa's lineup was weak even by preseason standards. Among those missing for the Senators were Alexei Yashin, Shawn McEachern, Igor Kravchuk, Chris Phillips and Damian Rhodes. Daniel Alfredsson recently suffered a knee injury that will sideline him for the first few weeks of the regular season.
The Sabres had one of the worst records in the league last season at winning face-offs.
"We've already started working on that part of the game, especially with (Wayne) Primeau, who we believe is bigger and stronger now and should be better on face-offs," Ruff said.
"The maturity factor should help guys like Curtis Brown and Primeau. . . . Our face-off percentage improved going down the stretch (last season). It was still a disappointing part of our game in the Washington (playoff), where they created a lot off of face-offs. It's something each center is going to have to work on."
Erik Rasmussen suffered a slight groin injury and sat out the third period. . . . A crowd of about 4,500, about two-thirds of capacity, turned out in Kitchener Memorial Auditorium . . . The Sabres practice Thursday at Buffalo State from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the public is welcome. They play Friday night at Toronto, and Saturday night against Washington in Norfolk, Va.