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Sabres come up short in big way, especially on power play

BROOKLYN – The execution was pitiful. The urgency was lacking. The desire to excel was missing.

That was just on the power play.

As short-handed goal after short-handed goal appeared on the scoreboard Saturday, the Sabres put together a lowlight reel on how not to play with the man-advantage.

"Two games, the power play's lost them both," center Jack Eichel said after a 6-3 loss to the New York Islanders.

There was plenty of blame to go around in Barclays Center – Robin Lehner could have covered up mistakes with a save, the blue-liners could have defended the odd-man rushes better and the forwards could have taken a shot in the opening 12:56 of a still-close third period – but the loss that dropped Buffalo to 0-1-1 is on the power play.

The Sabres allowed two short-handed goals in 50 seconds, then gave up another goal just 10 seconds after the power play ended. The onslaught in a span of 1:47 saw the Islanders' lead go from 1-0 to 4-0.

The goals show a lack of execution, effort and desire:

* Unpressured defenseman Nathan Beaulieu looped near his own blue line and was supposed to drop the puck straight back to Eichel. He missed his mark by about 20 feet, putting the puck right on the stick of John Tavares for a breakaway goal.

"It's just execution," Sabres coach Phil Housley said in Barclays Center. "When we turn the puck over and make mistakes, obviously we don't want to give it to one of the best players in the world."

* With the Sabres in the offensive zone, New York disrupted a play at the blue line. Casey Cizikas outskated Beaulieu and Victor Antipin to the top of the left circle, where he beat Lehner with a shot that rang in off the post.

"Made some mistakes, I've got to come up with a save," Lehner said. "Tavares gets a breakaway, he beats me. The short after that, Cizikas comes in and lets one rip. I felt like I have him, but he just finds the far corner. You just hear the sound from the post and it goes in.

"Then we're on our heels."

* The Islanders gained control just as their penalty was ending and dumped the puck down the ice. Josh Ho-Sang hopped out of the box and had a lead to the corner. Antipin looked over his shoulder for help, and all he saw was two Islanders.

The Sabres forwards headed for a change, and defenseman Matt Tennyson was on his way to the bench, too, before an abrupt turn. New York buried the three-on-one, ending Lehner's night with four goals on 16 shots.

The Wraparound: Islanders 6, Sabres 3

"It's just our urgency," left wing Evander Kane said. "We obviously have to clean up the mistakes. If we don’t give up those three short-handed goals, it's a different game, right?

"We have to come with some more urgency, be better individually and as a group. We've got to get this first win out of the way soon."

In the early days of the NHL season, a 4-0 lead isn't insurmountable. Kane scored two short-handed goals of his own before the second period ended, and a goal early in the third would have given the Sabres serious comeback hopes.

Instead, they let the Islanders take control.

"We didn't come out hungry enough in the third period early enough to mount that comeback," Kane said.

Housley didn't like the hunger at the start, either. While the Sabres were relaxing in New York on Friday night, the Islanders were losing, 5-0, in Columbus.

Guess which team scored just 1:50 after puck drop Saturday?

"We were supposed to be the fresh team coming in," Housley said. "We didn't have a pregame skate. We were talking about getting a good start, and I think that's the first thing we've got to address. A team that's played back-to-back and then had to travel, we should have been jumping on them.

"It's not so much what they're doing against us. It's what we're giving up. We've just got to clean that up."

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