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Shooters sputter as Sabres fall to Canucks

VANCOUVER -- There was 27 shots on goal, 25 by the forwards. There were six from Kyle Okposo, four each from Matt Moulson and Ryan O'Reilly. Especially in the last 30 minutes of the game, the Buffalo Sabres had more than enough chances to pull out a victory.

The Sabres simply didn't convert their opportunities and didn't solve the riddle presented to them by Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom.

The result was a 2-1 loss to the unbeaten Canucks Thursday night in Rogers Arena that left them with an unsatisfying 1-1-1 record on their Western Canada road swing.

"Fourteen shots in the second period is how we need to play, how we wanted to play," said coach Dan Bylsma, whose team is 1-2-1 overall. "We had opportunities to sneak one by him. That was our mentality. We needed to keep pushing and keep playing that way and we just didn't come up with it."

"He's a lanky goalie," Moulson said of the 6-foot-6, 200-pound Markstrom. "You have to get the puck up on him. He covers the bottom of the net pretty well and he made some big saves. You have to create second and third opportunities on goalies like that."

The Sabres did that on several occasions in the game, with Moulson and Okposo both stopped at one point from in tight and on their own follow-up rebounds. The final shots on goal in the game were 27-20 and the Sabres also led in shot attempts, 49-37.

The lone Buffalo goal was Nicholas Baptiste's fluke pinball shot that chipped into the air and then richocheted off two Canucks defenders with 8:37 to go. It cut Buffalo's deficit in half and gave the 21-year-old his first NHL goal.

The Sabres were 0 for 5 on the power play in the game while the Canucks were 1 for 5 and that goal, by Daniel Sedin at 9:10 of the third period, proved to be the difference.

To that point, the Sabres were 11 for 11 on the penalty kill thus far this season while the Canucks were 0 for 12 on the power play. Sedin's goal proved to be decisive in giving Vancouver its first 4-0 start since 1992.

"It may be my fault," Bylsma said of the Sedin goal. "I happened to see the number before I went out for the third period. They were at zero on the power play and we were at 100 percent. They get the power play, get the goal. I regret that a little bit."

Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner had some regret for the way he played Jannik Hansen's goal that opened the scoring at 11:10 of the second period and gave the Canucks their first lead in regulation in their four games. Lehner stopped Brandon Sutter's shot on a 2-on-1 with his right pad but the puck leaked away from the goalie into the crease, where Hansen was on the spot for a tap-in.

"It's a 2-on-1, I was on a good angle and it was not going on," Lehner said. "It's something we have to work on, me communicating better. When they see I'm aggressive and have the shooter, we have to take the back door."

The sequence began when Baptiste failed to handle a long stretch pass at the Vancouver line from Zach Bogosian, allowing the Canucks to turn the play around the other way.

"I have to take ownership," Baptiste said. "The puck came up the middle to me and at that point I've got to get that in deep if I'm not going to handle it right. That was an unfortunate play."

The Sabres were appreciably better the rest of the way after the goal, something that was as noticeable to Lehner as it was to the announced crowd of 17,809.

"We have to string along 60-minute games," Lehner said. "We can't have a period on and a period off. When you see we have it there one period, there's no reason we don't have our system all 60 minutes. We have to work on that."



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