The Buffalo Sabres flipped the page on their dismal November looking for a fresh start. Only the first day of December proved to be more of the same.
The Sabres went 3-8-2 in November. They start this month with a loss, falling, 4-0, to the Pittsburgh Penguins in KeyBank Center Friday night. Buffalo has just one win in its last 11 games and just four points in that span.
And then there's the lack of goals. It was the third straight game the Sabres were shut out, the first time in franchise history the team has been blanked in three consecutive games. The goal drought has stretched to 180 minutes, 51 seconds.
Penalty shot: When the puck got away (or was given away) by Victor Antipin on the blue line, Pittsburgh forward Tom Kuhnhackl had a breakaway on Robin Lehner. Lehner made the stop, but Antipin was called for hooking, giving Kuhnhackl a penalty shot. He beat Lehner and the Penguins took a 1-0 lead with 16:37 left in the first period. It was the first penalty-shot goal given up by the Sabres since New Jersey's Andy Greene scored on Nov. 11, 2016.
Paying for the giveaway: Rasmus Ristolainen went to clear the puck from the Sabres zone and put the puck directly on the stick of Sidney Crosby. Sid didn't miss and fired it right past Lehner for a 2-0 Pittsburgh lead.
What a pass by Rasmus Ristolainen 🍕 pic.twitter.com/NaKKyPsvJG
— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) December 2, 2017
Streaking Sid: The goal extended Crosby's point streak to five games.He has points in 26 of his last 28 games against Buffalo dating back to Dec. 29, 2007.
And how about a wraparound? By the end of the first period, Pittsburgh had a 3-0 lead, making the Sabres defense look silly in its own zone. Jake Guentzel blew by Ristolainen, wrapped behind the net, and beat Marco Scandella to the right post to tuck the puck past Lehner.
Second period woes: The Sabres got three power plays in the second, but got only one shot on goal. Pittsburgh actually had the better scoring opportunities while shorthanded. The Pens did add to their lead with 39.6 seconds left in the period. With the Sabres caught doing too much puck watching, Conor Sheary fed Patric Hornqvist in the slot for a 4-0 lead.
Powerless: The boos in KeyBank Center were pronounced all game, particularly in the third period when the Sabres had another power play, but failed to set up in the offensive zone let alone get a shot on goal.
Line combos: To start the game, the Sabres put Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel back together with Evander Kane. Jordan Nolan was up on the second line with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo. Kyle Criscuolo centered Benoit Pouliot and Jason Pominville while Johan Larsson was between Zemgus Girgensns and Matt Moulson.
The original six: The Sabres had the six defensemen they originally thought would be their starters in a game for the first time this season: Marco Scandella, Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe, Victor Antipin, Nathan Beaulieu, and Zach Bogosian.
Scratches: Josh Gorges and Justin Falk were were healthy scratches for the Sabres. Pittsburgh officially scratched Chad Ruhwedel, Greg McKegg and Josh Archibald.
Counting the house: It was a sellout at KeyBank Center of 19,070. But by the third period many of the fans had already checked out of the game, and the arena.
Up next: The home-and-home concludes at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Sabres are 2-3-1 in the second game of back-to-back sets this season. The Penguins are 1-4-2 on the second night.
The Sabres then begin a three-game road trip with games at Colorado (Dec. 5), at Chicago (Dec. 8) and at St. Louis (Dec. 10). The team returns to Buffalo on Dec. 12 to host Ottawa.