Score: Kings 5 | Sabres 2
Shots: Kings 28 | Sabres 29
LA Kings Goals: Adrian Kempe (27), Arthur Kaliyev (10), Sean Walker (3), Matt Roy (7), Viktor Arvidsson (14)
Buffalo Sabres Goals: Dylan Cozens (18), Peyton Krebs (7)
Minus-1: Second Period Slumps
The Sabres latest defeat started with a poor turnover on the power play that resulted in a short-handed goal in the second period, and it only got worse from there as a blitz of four goals in all took the game away from Buffalo.
Don Granato had a right to be frustrated because at that point the Sabres had actually been playing decently enough - “Great until we gave up a shorthanded goal and then it wasn’t so great.”
From the end of the first period at home against the Flames when the Sabres relinquished a 2-0 lead at home until they finally got on the board in the third last night, that was about four and a half periods of hockey where they failed to score and instead gave up 12 goals on the bounce. That’s not going to cut it at this level.
Minus-2: Halfway to Oblivion
If Buffalo fails to make the playoffs this season, it won’t come really as a surprise as few had given this team even a chance of contending for the postseason before this campaign started. However, when the look back at the year they’ve had, that eight-game losing streak is going to stand out as one of the key reasons they’re not still playing meaningful hockey well into the spring.
Last night’s loss makes it four in a row, starting with the shootout loss to the Wild and then the Hurricanes dismantling them in the last two games before the All-Star break. After the week off, Buffalo didn’t look much better while getting their clocks cleaned by the Flames and then the Kings.
They’re already halfway to matching the losing streak from earlier in the season that could yet doom their playoff hopes in an ultra-competitive Eastern Conference. The next two games against a pair of the weakest teams in the league are of critical importance - anything less than four points from those will pretty much end any hopes of snatching a wildcard spot.
Minus-3: A Case for Continuity
In a bid to mix things up Don Granato mixed up the composition of his lines, including the top line that has gone flat recently. While it was necessary and had a chance of working out, the Sabres looked like a discordant group on the ice and weren’t really able to get going.
Jeff Skinner - Dylan Cozens - Alex Tuch
Casey Mittelstadt - Tage Thompson - Kyle Okposo
Rasmus Asplund - Tyson Jost - Victor Olofsson
Zemgus Girgensons - Peyton Krebs - Jack Quinn
We can expect to see the same lineup for the next two games against the Ducks and the Sharks as Granato tries to get the groupings on the same page, but some of the same issues with special teams continue to plague the side, and will also need to be addressed. Scoring just once in five power play attempts while giving up a short-handed goal as well as two power play goals from three penalties taken is just abysmal.