LAS VEGAS – It was like playing a slot machine with a $20 bill and seeing the money fly away with almost no hits. Or quickly coming up empty at the roulette wheel. Or running a string of craps on the dice.
There was a whole lot of nothing from the Buffalo Sabres here Tuesday night.
They lost, 4-1, to the Vegas Golden Knights in T-Mobile Arena and were the better team only for small stretches of the final two periods.
It wasn't much of a follow-up to Saturday's 3-0 win in Arizona. The result dropped the Sabres to 3-3 on the season and 1-1 on their Western roadie.
This one is relatively simple to dissect. If you didn't stay up back home to watch, you didn't miss anything.
The Sabres were 0 for 6 on the power play and gave up a man-advantage goal to Vegas after the Golden Knights entered the game at 0 for 16 on the season. Buffalo also gave up a short-handed tally by Cody Eakin, a rare bad goal yielded by Carter Hutton.
"They had some good chances in the first and took it to us, and the special teams game killed us tonight," Hutton said. "We didn't generate as much as we should on the power play. It's a disappointing way, after a big win in Arizona, to come in here and lay an egg."
As crisp as they were Saturday, the Sabres were sloppy from the outset Tuesday. Their passing was spotty and they fumbled the puck often in the defensive zone. Most of their forwards didn't have any scoring opportunities.
On defense, Rasmus Ristolainen was on the ice for all Vegas goals while Rasmus Dahlin was on for two of the ones that counted and was burned on a play that resulted in a Shea Theodore goal midway through the first period. That one was wiped out on replay when Vegas' winger Max Pacioretty was clearly offside.
The Sabres have 12 goals in their six games this season. Their most telling stat: They're 0 for 15 on the power play in their three losses and 4 for 9 in their three wins.
"It's hard to score goals in this league," said captain Jack Eichel. "Every pass has to matter."
"We've got to make sure our execution has to be ready when the puck drops," said coach Phil Housley. "Not 10 minutes into the game or at the end of the first period."
That, however, is what Housley got as his team was outshot, 12-5, in the opening 20 minutes. Jonathan Marchessault's power-play goal with 1:01 left in the period put Vegas ahead for keeps.
Housley said he was hopeful his team had weathered the storm against a team it beat eight days earlier and was playing its first home game in nearly two weeks.
But things went from bad to worse in the second period when Sam Reinhart's turnover in the neutral zone allowd Eakin to break in on a 2-on-1. Ristolainen played the pass but Hutton couldn't take the shot.
"We didn't generate enough traffic," Hutton said. "Personally my game wasn't a terrible game but the second goal I'd definitely like to have back. He just beats me under my arm. He shoots from a good area and that's a save I have to make."
Especially since the Sabres didn't have many offensive players going. Casey Mittelstadt was the most physical forward the Sabres had, regularly getting in a Vegas player's face and drawing a couple of penalties.
But Mittelstadt also failed to convert the Sabres' best scoring chance of the night, just missing on a second-period chance to corral a loose puck that had leaked through Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury into an open crease. The Sabres were trailing, 2-0, at the time.
"It bounced right over my stick and it was kind of past the net and I couldn't put it in," said Mittelstadt, still without a goal in six games. "It's frustrating but if I score that it could change the tone of the game. It's part of the game. You've got to keep getting better and learn from it."
Only a garbage-time goal from Vladimir Sobotka with 36.7 seconds left prevented the Sabres from being shut out.
"We weren't real sharp with our execution," Housley said. "When we were good coming out of our end, we had this push and some zone time. But you could see a lack of execution and you can't turn pucks over on this team because they feast on it. They're very aggressive in transition and come back at you. We're spending a lot of time in our own zone playing defense."