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Sabres' season feels over by Thanksgiving after another loss

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, Buffalo Sabres fans.

Enjoy your Black Friday shopping.

Enjoy your long weekend if you're not working.

Enjoy whatever you can because there's certainly no enjoying a victory.

You probably won't be enjoying playoff hockey, either, but that's nothing new.

The Sabres' demoralizing start continued Wednesday with a 5-4 loss to Minnesota. Buffalo fell to 5-13-4 this season, including 0-5-2 in the last seven games. The dwindling crowds in KeyBank Center have seen the team put up a 2-7-1 record at home.

"Every one just gets worse and worse and worse," center Ryan O'Reilly said. "It's tough looking at the standings right now. It doesn't feel good. It's discouraging."

It's hard to imagine the season being over before the holiday turkey is carved, but the Sabres are digging that type of hole. They have just 14 points through 22 games. It takes about 95 points to make the playoffs. The Sabres have 60 games left, so they would need a 40-20 record just to get to 94 points.

It's possible, of course, but a seventh straight year without the postseason seems more probable.

"There's no hiding from the standings," defenseman Marco Scandella said. "You have to look at it. It's reality. I do look at it every day, and it's not pretty right now."

The Sabres held a closed-door meeting after the loss, which featured deficits of 3-1 and 5-2. Most (if not all) of the players were still in their stalls when the door opened, and the room was a mix of anger and gloom.

"It's about us in this room," Scandella said. "We've got to figure it out. We're going to need more pride in this locker room.

"The only way to get out of this is if we all work together and find a way to show up to the rink and give 100 percent effort every single night."

That's clearly not happening.

"They've got to make a decision internally of what's playing the right way," coach Phil Housley said. "As a coaching staff, we're going to fight through it. I just think that everybody's got to buy in to the message because obviously when you see that, you can see the result out there."

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While the Sabres' offense had a successful night – especially after scoring just one goal in seven of the previous 12 games – subpar goaltending, team defense, puck management and penalty killing contributed to a seventh straight setback.

Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson had a rough start. He allowed three goals on 13 shots in the first period, including getting fooled on a no-look backhand by former teammate Tyler Ennis. Robin Lehner replaced Johnson after 20 minutes.

"I can't argue it," Johnson said. "Three goals in the first period. With how things are going, it's obviously not good enough. We're not in a situation where we can let in three goals in a game, let alone a period. Disappointed I got pulled, but not surprised.

"I obviously need to be a lot better."

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The Sabres' penalty killers were a perfect 26 for 26 at home entering the night, but Minnesota went 2 for 3. On another goal, Johan Larsson turned the puck over. On others, the Sabres simply didn't cover their man or for each other.

The next game is Friday against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. They have plenty of problems with an 8-12-2 record, but they earned a 6-2 victory in Detroit on Wednesday.

The Sabres' last win was Nov. 7.

"We're chasing games," said Housley, whose team scored late in the second and third periods to make it close. "I really liked the fight that we had till the end, but when you chase games it's a losing recipe.

"I don't feel that everybody is on the same page."

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