Niagara Gazette

Sports

November 29, 2011

Sabres can’t finish off chances or last-place Islanders

BUFFALO —  

For the current state of the Sabres, consider this. In a five-day span, they lost to the feeble New York Islanders, the Eastern Conference’s worst team, and the hapless Columbus Blue Jackets, the Western Conference cellar-dweller.

In their last six games, the Sabres have only beaten the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals, two reeling clubs whose coaches got axed Monday.

Enough said.

In the latest setback, a boring 2-1 loss Tuesday to the Isles before a capacity crowd of 18,690 fans, the Sabres generated little against one of the NHL’s most porous defenses.

Still, they had a chance against the Isles, who had only one previous road victory in eight tries.

Jochen Hecht tied it 1:54 into third period. Then, just after Brian Rolston made it 2-1 in front at 9:23, the Sabres frittered away a 1:34 two-man advantage, botching and narrowly missing several prime opportunities.

“Those are ones you got to put away,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.

Incredibly, the Sabres fell to 5-7-1 at the First Niagara Center this season. They’ve lost six of nine (3-5-1) and haven’t won two straight games since they had four consecutive wins Nov. 4-11.

“I think we just got to be on the same page altogether,” Sabres center Derek Roy said. “Everyone’s just got to work together and work together to get the puck out, work together to get the puck in. Every goal is doing the hard work and working together.”

Despite a win over New Jersey in their last outing, the Isles were ripe to be exploited, having won only six times all season. They came in averaging a league-worst 1.95 goals per contest and allowing 3.17, 27thoverall.

“This is the NHL. Everyone comes to play, everyone comes to win,” Sabres defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani said. “We knew that. I mean, it’s a matter of bounces sometimes.”

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