The downhill slide continued for the Sabres Thursday night as they fell to the Montreal Canadians 3-1.
Buffalo once again started off on the right foot, with Captain Jack Eichel scoring his 30th goal of the season in the first period. He is now the first Sabres player to record 30 goals and 30 assists in a season since Jason Pominville in 2011-12.
Montreal took the reins in the second period. Ilya Kovalchuk evened the score, 1-1, just 44 seconds into the period. Followed shortly with an unassisted goal from teammate Brandan Gallagher with 16:55 left. Kyle Okposo did not return to the game following an undisclosed injury. Following the game, Head Coach Ralph Kruger said he suffered an upper-body injury but that it is not a concussion. He is not confident Okposo will return to the ice this weekend, but more information will be given at Friday’s practice.
The beating didn’t stop there— with less than 2 minutes left in regulation Tomas Tatar netted an empty-netter for the third and final goal for the Canadians. Buffalo is now 22-22-7 and sixth in the Atlantic Division. They are also 10 points out of a playoff spot.
“Not desperate enough,” assistant captain Jake McCabe said. “Not nearly desperate enough and that’s kind of been the message in the room, especially after today is guys got to understand the position we’re in and we do like to keep the picture small, but the last two games — we’ve been good on home ice — but we’ve let ourselves down here and nobody’s going to feel bad for us.”
“We just came out flat at the beginning of the second period,” Krueger said. “It took a while for us to grind ourselves back into the game. I thought there was a reaction in the making, but we just did not get to Carey Price in the way we needed to win this game tonight and it’s extremely disappointing where we’re standing right now.”
Carter Hutton, who had his third start since December 19, made 27 saves for Buffalo. He took place of Linus Ullmark, who will miss three-to-four weeks with a lower-body injury.
“Wins and losses are not really goalie stats,” Hutton said. “I can’t control whether we score or not; I can just control the way I compete and play. It’s frustrating, but there’s only so much I can control, and that’s the way I go about it.”
Rasmus Dahlin recorded another assist on Eichel’s goal. He now has 73 points in his career and passed Bobby Orr for the fourth-most points by a teenage defenseman in NHL history.
The Sabres continue their homestead on Saturday as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets at 1 p.m.