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Sabres fall meekly in Toronto

TORONTO – There have been some horrible, downright despicable performances by the Sabres since they were founded in 1970. Pity anyone who watched one worse than Tuesday’s outing.

Buffalo’s 10th game of 2014-15 had folks looking to the calendar to see when this season will be over. Only 24 weeks and 72 games left!

Pity anyone who stays with this train wreck the whole way.

Goaltender Michal Neuvirth was the only player to show up for the Sabres, who slept from the opening faceoff to the merciful horn in a 4-0 loss to Toronto. Buffalo had just 10 shots, the fewest in franchise history, and looked worse than the peewee team it was compared to earlier in the season.

“It’s embarrassing,” right wing Drew Stafford said. “There’s no other way to describe it. I don’t know how we expect to win games let alone be competitive with that going on. We need to just wake up.”

Said defenseman Tyler Myers: “We came out and just had an embarrassing effort. We’re not going to win one game like that.”

It would have been much, much worse if Neuvirth hadn’t stopped 33 shots as Toronto swarmed him all night. He stopped the first 28 shots he faced – which came while the Sabres “tested” the Maple Leafs’ Jonathan Bernier just eight times.

“We had nothing,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “Toronto had everything going. They were skating well. They deserved everything they got. We deserved exactly what we got.

“Sometimes if your feet ain’t moving at least your brain should be thinking a little bit. Tonight we had neither.”

The Sabres hoped to build momentum off their first regulation victory, a 2-1 decision in San Jose on Saturday. Instead, they left their game on the West Coast to fall to 2-8.

None of the losses looked as bad as Tuesday’s debacle.

“We can talk about it all we want after games,” Myers said. “We can have as many meetings as we want. Until we as a group make up our minds that we’re going to play a certain way, the way we have to play to be competitive in every game, it’s just not going to work.

“If you play a certain way, you’re going to give yourselves a chance to win. Any AHL team, if they’re playing the right way, will be a competitive team.”

The Sabres’ AHL team actually plays in First Niagara Center tonight. Rochester would probably be favored to win if it faced Buffalo instead of Hamilton.

“That’s by far not good enough,” alternate captain Josh Gorges said of Tuesday’s “effort.”

“I don’t know who we think we are or what kind of team we think we are or what we’ve accomplished to be playing like that. We haven’t done nothing to be out there playing a cute game. We don’t deserve to play a cute game.

“Until we figure out that we have to work and scratch and claw and grind and dig in order to give ourselves a chance every night to win, then we’re going to have nights like this.”

Amazingly, thanks to Neuvirth, the Sabres actually had a chance to win entering the final period. Toronto led just 1-0. A fluke bounce could have tied things for the Sabres.

The Leafs got it instead, which sent the Sabres running for the bus. Phil Kessel’s shot from below the goal line bounced in off Neuvirth with 4:18 gone, and the Sabres got ready to declare another loss at the border. James van Riemsdyk tapped in a pass at the top of the crease exactly one minute later, and the rout was on.

“Going into the third we’re only down one, and we come out even worse than we did in the first two,” Myers said. “Something’s got to change here.”

The Sabres, who host Boston on Thursday, didn’t get their first shot of the third period until just 6:05 remained. They finally reached double digits with 4:08 remaining in a game that ended, 37-10.

“There’s no story line except the fact we’re terrible at the lines and we’re terrible at puck possession, terrible at getting pucks on net,” Stafford said. “It’s frustrating. There’s not much else to say.”

email: jvogl@buffnews.com

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