The Buffalo Sabres lost the special teams battle Thursday night and it made a huge difference in the result.
The Sabres went 0 for 7 on the power play while giving up two man-advantage goals as the Colorado Avalanche pulled away for a 6-1 win over Buffalo at KeyBank Center.
The Sabres finished their opening homestand, the longest from the start of a season in franchise history, with a 2-2 record. Colorado improved to 3-1.
Nathan MacKinnon, the Hart Trophy runner-up last season, had two goals in the game to lead the Avalanche and push his season total to five. He tied the Colorado franchise record by scoring a goal in his fourth straight game to start the season. Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Barrie had two assists apiece.
The Sabres had gone 3 for 6 on the power play in their last two games, wins over the New York Rangers and Vegas Golden Knights. But despite 13 shots on goal, the man-advantage units were stymied on Thursday.
Getting the jump: The Colorado power play got the Avs the lead at 10:55 of the first period when Tyson Jost deflected home Barrie's shot from the point with 21 seconds left on a hooking penalty to Jake McCabe.
Quick strikes: The Avs pushed their lead to 3-0 with two goals in a span of 3:10. Colin Wilson tallied on a power play at 3:10 and Carl Söderberg beat Carter Hutton high glove at 16:30 with an even-strength tally.
Called back: The Sabres appeared to score with 21.5 seconds left in the first period as Kyle Okposo jammed in the puck at the goalmouth after an acrobatic toe-drag by Jack Eichel got the puck deep in the Colorado zone. But the Avalanche challenged and it was ruled Okposo interfered with Varlamov, preventing from making a play on the puck.
Finally breaking the ice: The Sabres had the better of the play through much of the second period and broke through at 17:05 when Nathan Beaulieu's wrister leaked through Varlamov for his first goal of the season.
On the scoresheet: Rasmus Dahlin got the assist on the Beaulieu goal, giving the Sabres No. 1 overall pick his first NHL point.
Quick response: MacKinnon scored just 28 seconds after Beaulieu, converting a Rantanen pass after Marco Scandella's pass hit an official's skate in the corner. A furious Scandella smashed his stick on the ice in frustration after the play.
Coup de graces: Breakaway goals by Alex Kerfoot with 4:37 left and MacKinnon with 2;59 to go put the game away. Both shots beat Hutton just under the crossbar.
Big night for Pominville: Winger Jason Pominville played his 664th career game for the Sabres, tying Mike Foligno and current Buffalo Beauts coach Ric Seiling for 10th on the team's all-time list. Pominville, who is scheduled to play his 1,000th career NHL game Nov. 1 in Ottawa, is 17 behind Rick Martin for ninth and can also pass Alexei Zhitnik (712) before the season ends.
What's Next: The Sabres practice Friday in KeyBank Center and then head for the desert to start a five-game road trip. They'll meet the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night in Gila River Arena to open a trip that also heads to Vegas, San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim. They will go two weeks between home games, with the next one not slated until Oct. 25 against Montreal.