There was pure rage in the Buffalo Sabres' locker room Sunday night in HSBC Arena. And not just because a couple reporters stepped on the team logo on the new carpet and forgot to walk around it.
That gaffe brought shouts from several corners of the room, topped by Paul Gaustad's profanity-laced tirade. Still, it was plainly obvious everyone would have been in a better mood had the Sabres not frittered away a 3-1 lead in the final 2:27 of regulation and quickly melted down in overtime as the Nashville Predators stole a 4-3 win.
The Sabres have no time to brood over what happened but they can't forget either. They returned to the ice Monday morning, then boarded a plane for Montreal to get set for tonight's matchup with the Canadiens in the Bell Centre.
The hope is that they can channel that postgame anger the right way -- by taking some of it out on the Habs.
"The good part is that it came from within," said coach Lindy Ruff. "They realized to put all that work in and to give it away, to make the mistakes we made were unacceptable."
Goaltender Ryan Miller made quite a statement on the ice, bolting down the runway past all his teammates as soon as Martin Erat's shot hit the back of the net. It was oddly reminiscent of Dominik Hasek's farewell to HSBC Arena after Pittsburgh's Darius Kasparaitis scored to beat the Sabres in Game Seven of their 2001 playoff series.
Miller quickly exited the locker room Sunday and was still emotional when meeting with reporters Monday.
"I did not like the way that played out," Miller said. "I thought a 3-1 lead with under three minutes left and to lose? Unacceptable. On every front. Top down. So I got out of there quick and didn't talk because I had nothing good to say.
" I'm not sending messages. It was just an emotional reaction to get the heck off the ice. Anytime I have something to say, I do it."
Gaustad left the locker room Sunday after he dressed down the media regarding the logo. His voice was then one of several that could be heard shouting in an off-limits dressing area.
"We had played a solid game," Gaustad said Monday. "We have to be better the last three minutes. As for what happened in here, sometimes emotions get the best of us. You guys aren't in here all the time to see what happens.
"I'll say this: Guys on this team care. They do show emotion and don't think they don't. It's just that you don't see it. It's not something we normally reveal to you guys but we care. You just happened to see some of it [Sunday]."
The Sabres were in complete control of this one until top defense pair Tyler Myers and Andrej Sekera short-circuited and were on the ice for all three goals. Sekera, in a strange stat oddity, was on for all seven goals in the game.
Still, Ruff put Myers and Sekera on the ice to start overtime. Myers missed the puck behind the net and Sekera was in no-man's land as Martin Erat deposited the game-winner.
"Young players sometimes are young players," Ruff said. "Seasoned players may not make those same mistakes To me it looked like we got a little bit rattled."
Did Ruff think about not starting the OT with Myers and Sekera?
"You think about a lot of things but you can't have anything back," Ruff said. "They've been our go-to guys. If we want to win a hockey game from the back end, those are the two guys who are going to get up ice and help us win. Unfortunately, it didn't work out."
Miller agreed with the notion the Sabres can turn their anger into a positive. But he cautioned the team can't let Sunday's collapse wipe out their 57 solid minutes to that point and carry into tonight's game.
"I'd love to be able to channel it [the anger] but it's just an emotional game," Miller said. "Sometimes things are going good, you fly pretty high. When things don't go your way, you get pretty low and it gets kind of dark and that's the swing of it.
"That's where good teams can be a little bit more flat. They're not going to be in those deep valleys. And if they're a little bit high, they know they have to do those things that got them there. You're always learning and evolving. This team will continue to do that."