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Sabres embarrassed by cellar-dwelling Islanders

Welcome to the bottom of the Eastern Conference

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at New York Islanders Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In what could be called one of the lowest points in a season filled with struggles, the Sabres looked hapless against the worst team in the Eastern Conference. Well, at least they were the worst coming into the game. That honor is now shared with Buffalo after New York defeated the Sabres 5-1 in Buffalo’s final game before the Christmas break.

Anthony Beauvillier started the avalanche with a deflection off a Travis Hamonic shot in the first period. In the second New York crashed the net hard on both its goals, facing little resistance. Ryan Strome was able to skate around Zack Bogosian to grab a rebound off his own wrist shot and slam it home. John Tavares added another in the final minute of the second, as he was able to knock a puck off a defender and into the net.

The Islanders added two more in the third. Andrew Ladd scored on a laser shot upstairs, and Calvin de Haan scored the final goal on a play where he probably should have been called for a penalty. With a five-goal differential, it’s hard to get too upset about it.

Zemgus Girgensons scored with 1:03 remaining. Someone schedule the parade. It’s his third of the season.

Buffalo has now lost four straight games, scoring only one goal in three of those outings.

The Sabres are 12-13-8 33 games into the season, good for 32 points. Only two teams have less, Arizona and Colorado. The Sabres are nearly entirely healthy. This team is running out of excuses, and at this point it may be time to accept they are just flat-out bad.

Three Questions

1. Will we see any more lineup shenanigans from Bylsma, and how will Jack respond to his benching?

Bylsma did his usual fiddling, but nothing too crazy. Eichel, like most Sabres tonight, failed to make an impact.

2. How will the Sabres start the game tonight?

The Sabres failed to score the first goal of the game for the seventh straight outing, as Anthony Beauvillier tipped a shot past Nilsson 12 minutes into the game.

3. Will the Sabres send their fans into the holiday break feeling naughty, or nice?

The anti-smoking commercial of Marlene getting needles shot into her eyes is an accurate representation of how Sabres fans feel right now. Also, that commercial was on way too many times tonight. It graced my television set even more often than Islanders goals did.