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With few players doing their jobs, Sabres' plummet continues

Chad Johnson has lived a nomadic hockey life. He has played for a different organization each of the past seven seasons.

No matter where Johnson has been, one fundamental truth has remained constant.

"At the end of the day," the Buffalo Sabres goaltender said Saturday, "you just have to do your job or somebody else will."

It might be time for Buffalo to start looking for somebody else to do its jobs.

With one-quarter of the season gone, the Sabres are one of the two worst teams in the NHL. Their winless streak stretched to five games Saturday with a 3-1 loss to Carolina. They have won just five of their 20 games, falling to 5-11-4.

"It is testing my patience," coach Phil Housley said in KeyBank Center. "The last game in Detroit was really the end of my wick as far as remaining patient and making some adjustments."

The coach made a minor move against the Hurricanes, moving right wing Jason Pominville up a line and dropping Kyle Okposo down one. It equated to having a bucket on the deck of the Titanic.

For the fifth time in seven games and seventh time in 11, the Sabres scored one goal. They are last in the league at 2.3 goals per game.

After recording 10 shots through 40 minutes during Friday's 3-1 loss to Detroit, they had 13 after two periods against Carolina.

"We’ve had our chances, but we definitely need to generate more offense," said left wing Evander Kane, who scored his 11th goal. "A lot of that has to do with execution, a lot of that has to do with taking the puck to the net instead of playing along the perimeter. I think we play along the perimeter way too much."

Actually, they play without the puck way too much. It took them 17:24 to register their first shot.

The Wraparound: Hurricanes 3, Sabres 1

Other than Kane's third-period goal and his apparent second one 10 seconds later that was disallowed for a kicking motion, that long-awaited first period shot drew the loudest cheer of the night. It was sarcastic, but at least the fans had something to do.

They have to be wondering if General Manager Jason Botterill will do something soon.

"We've just got to commit to the right style," right wing Jordan Nolan said. "We didn't have it the other night. We were a little better tonight, but if you're going back and forth between playing the right way and not, you're not going to win a lot of hockey games.

"Until this team figures out what we need to do as a whole bunch here, then we're not going to win too many hockey games."

What is the right style for this team?

"We've got to just manage the puck a lot better," Nolan said. "We've got to be more intense in our battles. We've got to care about the D-zone and our defensive play.

"Once we start doing that, we'll start getting some chances in the O-zone. We'll start turning pucks over like teams are doing on us, and that's how you win hockey games."

The Sabres certainly aren't winning now. They're 0-3-2 in the last five games. Their points percentage of .350 is ahead of only the .250 put up by Arizona (4-15-3).

Buffalo is on pace for 57 points. During the last-place seasons of 2013-14 and 2014-15, the Sabres had 52 and 54 points, respectively.

Being grouped with those teams is not good – not good at all.

"We're definitely finding our game, but it's to be expected," Johnson said of the slow start. "I've been on fresh teams for the last couple years. It's part of finding the identity. There will be ups and downs.

"You can't get behind too far or no matter how you play it's going to be pretty challenging. I think you always have to stay in the hunt, and you have to push, push every day to find that game and find that consistency in the game."

The Sabres aren't pushing or finding consistency. It's easy to wonder if they need to find different players.

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