Score: Penguins 4 | Sabres 0
Shots: PIT 32 | BUF 36
Penguins Goals: Radim Zohorna (1 - first NHL goal), Jared McCann (6,7), Jake Guentzel (14)
Sabres Goals: None.
Neutral: Coaching Pinch
In case you missed it, the Sabres found themselves in a bit of a pinch late heading into Thursday night’s game. The team announced that interim head coach Don Granato and interim assistant coach Matt Ellis were both self-isolating and unavailable due to COVID-19 protocol. This meant general manager Kevyn Adams was forced to step behind the bench, joining assistant Dan Girardi. Mike Bales (goaltending coach) was also helping out, while Rochester Americans head coach Seth Appert made the drive and arrived in time for the second period.
The Sabres return to action on Saturday, so we’ll have to see what happens between now and then.
Minus - 1: Another Loss
It’s no big shock that the Sabres dropped yet another game, and yet every loss is still disappointing. While Buffalo didn’t look bad in the beginning of Thursday’s game, the end result was the same. Buffalo has now been shutout seven times this season - more times than they’ve won. Although they managed to put 36 shots on net, they couldn’t find the back of the net. They also went 0-4 on the power play.
At this point, it’s like grasping at straws trying to find something positive to say about these games. Perhaps the only highlight of the last few days has been the play of Dustin Tokarski, which has been a nice little surprise relative to the fact that he hadn’t played an NHL game since 2016, but in the end.... a loss is still a loss.
Minus - 2: Still Struggling with Injuries
The Sabres’ roster continues to struggle with injuries. Carter Hutton remains out, with an update expected from the team on Friday. Linus Ullmark isn’t back yet. Rasmus Asplund has been put on injured reserve, and Kyle Okposo has been out the last two games. Tage Thompson has also missed the last two games with illness (not COVID-19 related). This, combined with Jack Eichel going on IR and still out of the lineup, means the Sabres have had a lot of moving pieces. For Thursday’s game, that meant bringing in C.J. Smith and Steven Fogarty off the taxi squad, while recalling J.S. Dea and Brett Murray from the Amerks to the taxi squad.
Another night and another loss - and things won’t be getting any easier for the Sabres. Buffalo returns to action on Saturday afternoon against the Boston Bruins before a pair of games against the Philadelphia Flyers to close out the month of March. Meanwhile, the Sabres remain the worst team in the NHL with a 6-22-4 record and a measly 16 points.