In what's easily been his best season with the team, Zach Bogosian has been largely immune from the turnover bugaboo that has plagued the Buffalo Sabres' defense for weeks.
But Bogosian got infected in a bad way the last two games, so he's aiming for a quick turnaround when the Sabres host Minnesota Tuesday night in KeyBank Center.
"As a competitor, you always want to be on top of your game," Bogosian said. "When things aren't going that way, you try to do your part to help the team. Any time you go through a rough stretch, you know you can bounce back pretty quick. We have a game on Tuesday. We're looking to get a win and go from there."
Bogosian's backhand pass up the middle Wednesday night in Dallas was intercepted and turned into a Jamie Benn goal that was the only tally in Buffalo's 1-0 loss. He was a season-worst minus-3 in Friday's 7-3 implosion against Chicago.
Bogosian's outlet pass up the boards wasn't handled by Sam Reinhart and was turned into the Hawks' first goal. With the Sabres down 3-1 in the final minute of the second period, he made a rush into the Chicago zone but couldn't handle Casey Mittelstadt's pass in the middle of the ice.
The Hawks broke back on a 2-on-1 break, with Brandon Saad scoring a momentum-killing goal with 20 seconds left to put Buffalo in a 4-1 hole.
"It's just managing the game and we talk about it all the time," said coach Phil Housley. "We've got to make plays, but to me when you're coming through the neutral zone to the top of the circles in the offensive zone, those are critical areas. When we're going east-west instead of focusing on north and having a shot mentality, it comes back."
Bogosian came out of the All-Star break with a two-assist, plus-4 night in the Sabres' 5-4 win at Columbus, but things turned around quickly on him in a bad way.
For the season, Bogosian has two goals and 10 assists with a minus-1 rating. But for the first time in Buffalo, he's been healthy and has played in 46 of 51 games. He's played the third-most minutes on the team behind Rasmus Ristolainen and Rasmus Dahlin and is running a 49.1 Corsi rating at 5-on-5, his highest since he was in Winnipeg in 2014-15.
The Buffalo defense's struggles with the puck have been a problem for several weeks. Rookie Lawrence Pilut has been in and out of the lineup because of it, and veteran Marco Scandella has become the scourge of social media because of his play with the puck. Scandella's most recent ugly gaffe was when he fanned on a pass in the last minute of play and handed the puck to Saad for the Blackhawks' seventh goal Friday night.
The defense is trying to start the offense by making plays like it did earlier in the season. But Bogosian admitted the turnover surge seems contagious at times.
"I don't really have an answer for that," Bogosian said. "Mistakes happen. It's a game of mistakes. It's just important for everyone to stay together. As a group, as a whole of the team we can play better and do a better job."
Bogosian said he hopes the Sabres derive some lessons from the Chicago loss, easily one of the team's worst games of the season in terms of puck management. The Sabres outshot the Blackhawks by 13 and outattempted them by 18, but turnovers, shots passed up and pucks put in the wrong spot led to an ugly defeat in the opener of the team's seven-game homestand.
"We did a lot of good things and then a lot of things you can clean up," he said. "Any time you give up that amount of goals, there's room for improvement. We have to sort things out defensively for sure.
"Games like that shouldn't happen at home. Not that you want it to ever happen, but at home we have to establish advantage. That wasn't the story of it (Friday) so we have to come ready to go Tuesday."
The Sabres were off Sunday and will return to practice Monday morning in HarborCenter. Johan Larsson (lower body), Matt Hunwick (upper body) and Carter Hutton (illness) all missed practice Saturday so it remains to be seen if any roster moves will be needed for them.
The team figures to have at least one new forward on hand as Remi Elie cleared waivers Sunday and was assigned to Rochester. Perhaps the top candidate for a recall is veteran Scott Wilson, who has been rehabbing the broken ankle he suffered in training camp in the AHL. Wilson has two goals and three assists in nine games for the Amerks.
The Amerks reassigned goalie Jonas Johansson to Cincinnati on Sunday, paving the way for the return of starter Scott Wedgewood when they host Syracuse on Wednesday night. Wedgewood missed the last four games with a lower-body injury. Johansson made 34 saves in Saturday night's 4-1 win at Hartford to improve to 4-1 in the AHL this year with a 2.26 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.