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Sabres Notebook: Sluggish offense gives Housley plenty to talk about

SAN JOSE — Coach Phil Housley did a lot of talking before, during and after the Buffalo Sabres' practice here Wednesday.

There was video work prior to the workout. On the ice, there were a lot of one-on-one chats. Following practice in SAP Center, Housley summoned players out of various rooms in the underbelly of the arena and brought them all into the locker room.

They sat behind closed doors for more than a half-hour for more words. A big topic was offense, or lack of it. While the Sabres are 3-3, they've only scored 12 goals in six games and are tied for 29th in the NHL at two goals per game.

At 5 on 5, it's just six goals, or one per game, against 10 given up.

Housley's basic points?

"The way we attack the game," he said. "Especially entering the offensive zone, getting more pucks to the net and more people there, stopping and paying a price to score some goals.

"You're going to hear a lot from me about 5-on-5 differential because it's the difference between winning and losing. Your special teams have to play an important role but you can't count on them all the time. It's not going to happen all the time. Five-on-five is something we can control. Getting to the net with more traffic was a big focus today."

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The power play got plenty of attention during the workout as well. The Sabres have already had two huge flameouts this season, with an 0-for-7 in last week's loss to Colorado and the 0-for-6 showing Tuesday in Vegas.

"It's finding that consistency where it's not an 0-for-6 night and then a night you win a game for the team. Last night it just wasn't there," said Jack Eichel. "I think it's a mental thing. It's knowing when you step over the boards you have to do a job on the power play.

"I thought we were maybe overthinking it. Sometimes the most successful power plays are the simplest ones that get just shots to the net. Things have to happen quicker. We have to understand where our outs and supports are. It's going a little too slow right now. We have to be thinking about the next play."

For the season, the Sabres are tied for 20th in the NHL at 16.7 percent (3 for 15 at home, 1 for 9 on the road)

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Center Patrik Berglund, who dropped coverage on Jonathan Marchessault on Vegas' first goal Tuesday night, was not on a line in practice Wednesday but Housley said he was nursing bumps and bruises. Berglund played a season-low 9 minutes, 37 seconds Tuesday.

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Matej Pekar, the Sabres' fourth-round pick in June, signed his three-year, entry-level contract on Wednesday. It would kick in after he completes his junior career with Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League.

Pekar, a center selected 94th overall, has six goals and 11 points for Barrie. His coach is former Sabre and Hockey Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk.

He took part in Sabres development camp after the draft and was committed to play college hockey for Miami University in Ohio. He was selected by Barrie in the OHL draft and opted to play for the Colts rather than attend college or return to Mukegon of the USHL, where he was named Rookie of the Year last season after collecting 54 points in 56 games.

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