The last thing the Buffalo Sabres needed at this point was for any other player to be knocked out of the lineup.
Everything was normal Monday at the Scotiabank Saddledome until the pregame warmup started and the rumors started flying. The scuttle was true: Tyler Myers, who grew up in the Calgary suburbs and had come home for Christmas, was sick and missed a game for the first time in his NHL career.
The Sabres played a patient first 20 minutes but things got looser and looser without Myers as the night went on in what turned into a 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames before 19,289.
With Derek Roy out of the lineup for the first time after suffering his season-ending knee injury Thursday, it was hard to imagine the pop-gun Buffalo offense doing much.
It didn't. Too many mistakes conspired to deny goaltender Ryan Miller his 200th career victory for the second straight game.
After Drew Stafford gave them a 1-0 lead in the first, the Sabres fell behind on second-period goals by Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla. Former Sabre Ales Kotalik beat Miller with a quick snap shot early in the third for his first of the season and the Flames added two others, with Tom Kostopoulous providing an exclamation point by scoring just before the buzzer on a two-man advantage. Patrick Kaleta had Buffalo's other goal.
The Sabres, who fell to 1-5-2 in their last eight road games, left immediately after this one for Edmonton. They will meet the Oilers tonight at 9 in Rexall Place.
The Sabres fell 10 points behind eighth-place Boston in the Eastern Conference standing and the players had a 10-minute closed-door meeting after this one. There were plenty of grim faces afterward.
"No one is feeling sorry for ourselves," said captain Craig Rivet. "The guys on the ice need to perform, need to play well. Tonight wasn't about the guys we didn't have in the lineup, it was about the guys that we had in the lineup not making the right plays, making mistakes and turnovers."
The most grievous play came on Iginla's goal at 16:13 of the second that snapped a 1-1 tie and put the Flames up for good.
Iginla converted after the Sabres seemed to have a two-on-two situation under control. But one of the Buffalo defenders was center Jochen Hecht, and he simply let Iginla go to the net unimpeded. Iginla easily tapped home Alex Tanguay's pass and Calgary was home free.
"I saw Tanguay coming into the middle and I hesitated a little bit," said Hecht, who thought the two Calgary players were crossing. "In that time Iginla flew by me and Tanguay made a nice pass."
The play came at the end of a great shift by the line of Hecht, Jason Pominville and Drew Stafford. But the line was caught on the ice for nearly a minute and Hecht was clearly gassed by the time the puck ended up in their net.
"You can't make those mistakes," said an agitated coach Lindy Ruff. "He let his man go and he ended up scoring a goal. He's there. He's got to dig in. I know it was a long shift but he's got to suck it up."
Myers did not take the ice for the warmup and it was announced just before faceoff he was a scratch for the first time during his two seasons after playing 117 consecutive games. Ruff said Myers told him after the morning skate he wasn't feeling well. The coach didn't know what Myers' status would be for tonight.
"I don't think it's likely," Ruff said.
Myers, who grew up in suburban Calgary, had several family members at the morning skate and game. There was nothing unusual at the pregame workout and Myers, who was interviewed by both Calgary newspapers after practice here Sunday, did some television interviews Monday.
Shaone Morrisonn, who has been out the last eight games since suffering a concussion Dec. 3 against Columbus, moved back into the lineup on defense.