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Sabres' early season summary: 'We're just doing a lot of things wrong'

The one thing as high as Nathan Beaulieu's turnover total was his frustration level. After the Sabres fished another of his giveaways out of the net, the new defenseman had to do something.

He found a willing combatant in New Jersey's Miles Wood, so the duo dropped the gloves. Beaulieu took out his discontent on the top of Woods' skull.

Maybe the Sabres should stick to fighting. It's about the only area where they're winning so far.

"It's just not good enough – with myself to start off," Beaulieu said after a boo-filled, 6-2 loss to New Jersey. "These last two games, those plays turning the puck over to the back of your net, it just can't happen."

Yet it is happening again and again and again. At times Monday, it looked like the Sabres were giving pucks away just to get more work defending two-on-ones.

They need more practice.

"When we get the two-on-ones and three-on-twos against us as a D corps, we've got to shut them down," Beaulieu said in KeyBank Center. "We've got to be better. It starts with myself."

It may start with Beaulieu, but he's at the front of the line with plenty of players. Actually, with the exception of Evander Kane, Beaulieu may be tied with every skater wearing blue and gold.

"We're just doing a lot of things wrong right now," defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen said. "You've got to earn the win, and these last two games we really haven't earned the right to win."

Sabres lose 6-2 to Devils, and fans on Twitter are not happy

For a second straight game, the Sabres gave up six goals in a loss. It took them only 40 minutes to do it this time. The Devils raced for loose pucks and the net, and they easily got to both during the first and second periods.

"Our effort was unacceptable," Sabres coach Phil Housley said.

The effort is indeed lacking. That's nothing new. Buzzwords such as "compete" and "battle" have echoed hollowly through the Sabres' dressing room for years.

The sluggishness was evident whenever a puck bounced off a shin or caromed off a stick. Odds were nearly 100 percent that New Jersey would get it. The Devils would then take off, and goaltender Chad Johnson was at the mercy of a passer and shooter who had space to do whatever they liked.

"We've got to earn the bounces," Ristolainen said. "When they work hard, they get the bounces, and that's what happened."

Johnson, who replaced Robin Lehner during Saturday's 6-3 loss to the New York Islanders, took a seat on the bench for the third period. Johnson's goals-against average ballooned to 5.91, while Lehner's fell to 3.22.

Those poor numbers are next to the goalies' names, but they belong to the whole team.

"We left our goalies out to dry the last two games," defenseman Jake McCabe said. "Seeing our goaltender get pulled, the burden's directly on us."

Chad Johnson, Jack Eichel (15) and Robin Lehner (40) are feeling the effects of an 0-2-1 start. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

Beaulieu, acquired during the offseason, again should have earned an assist for the opponent. He gave the puck to New York's John Tavares for a goal Saturday, and he coughed it up to the Devils' Taylor Hall on Monday.

"You have a good first period and you come out and make a dumb play, and it ends up in the back of your net," Beaulieu said. "It's just those little plays get yourself in trouble. That's no excuse. I've just got to be better."

The miscue and resulting goal by Marcus Johansson gave New Jersey a 4-1 lead midway through the second period. It was 6-1 by the time the Sabres headed into intermission. Gusts from fans' jeering pushed them toward the dressing room.

"Our resilience has to be better because we're faced with adversity and we're not facing it the right way," Housley said. "We're seeing a little bit of a lull in our game, and we're not reacting in the right way.

"Mistakes have killed us at key times of the game. We're going to make mistakes, but we've got to face that adversity a lot better."

When the Sabres reached the dressing room, Housley established an objective. He wanted the Sabres to win the third period.

While they fell to 0-2-1 when the buzzer sounded, they picked up a 1-0 "victory" during the final 20 minutes.

As they head to the West Coast for four games, they'll take any win they can get.

"We just need to start feeling the success and getting this nasty taste out of our mouth and just trying to get some mojo going for us," McCabe said. "It's disheartening, but at the same time we're going to hit the reset button and come to work for our West Coast trip."

The Wraparound: Devils 6, Sabres 2

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