Sabres Lack Intensity in Loss
Saturday, 01.07.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
"We had some guys that I thought played poorly," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff. "When you casually go off sides in the second period, that pretty well sums up the mental state of the team, which wasn't good enough to win that game."
The Sabres offense mustered just 13 shots on Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur in the first and second periods combined.
"We didn't get the legs going and the determination level up until the last 10 minutes of the game when we sat some guys that weren't playing very well," said Ruff.
"We showed in the last period that we can work and play the way we should," said rookie Thomas Vanek. "The first 40 minutes, we got absolutely dominated."
Playing without co-captain Chris Drury due to a groin injury and defenseman Toni Lydman, who was battling the flu, Buffalo recorded a faceoff percentage of 42% for the game and surrendered 20 shots on goal in the first two periods.
"We lost a couple key personnel, the ice time truck came by and dumped more time on some guy's plates and those guys didn't respond as well," said Ruff. "We put guys in a little bit different roles, and until we really started to work at it, we weren't getting any results."
The line of Vanek, Derek Roy and Maxim Afinogenov was the most productive combination for the Sabres. The line contributed both of Buffalo's goals, 10 shots on net and averaged more than 19 minutes in ice time per player.
Afinogenov converted on Buffalo's only man-advantage opportunity, while Thomas Vanek scored the team's second goal on a great individual effort.
Sabres goaltend Ryan Miller, who had allowed more than two goals in a game just once in his last six starts, allowed three goals off 27 shots in just his sixth loss of the season.
"I thought he was good," said Ruff of Miller. "He stopped three breakaways in the first period. We could have gotten out of that period leading 1-0 but we slapped ourselves in the face in that last minute."
New Jersey played a very disciplined game against the Sabres, taking just one penalty in the first two periods of play.
"When you work hard and are skating, you are going to draw a few more penalties," said Ruff.
Defenseman Nathan Paetsch recorded his first point in the NHL with an assist on Afinogenov's goal. Paetsch was recalled from the Rochester Americans after it was deteremined that Lydman would be a scratch. His 31 points (5+26) leads the Amerks and ranks third among defensemen in the American Hockey League.
"For playing in his first NHL game, he got through it fine," said Ruff. "His effort was good, he tried to join rushes and he was in on the first goal for us. You can be pleased with that effort for a first game."
"The whole reason to bring guys like me up is to win hockey games," said Paetsch. "That didn't happen tonight so it's disappointing."
The rookie will return to Rochester once Lydman is healthy.
After more than 17 minutes of scoreless play, the first ended in a 1-1 tie after a pair of goals were scored in the final three minutes of the period.
Afinogenov gave Buffalo the 1-0 lead at 17:22 after receiving a pass from Roy at the left post and sliding the puck past an outstretched Brodeur.
On a three-on-two rush with just 44 seconds remaining in the opening period, Jamie Langenbrunner converted on John Madden's rebound to tie the game. Madden's shot from the right wing skipped over Miller to the far post, where Langenbrunner slapped it home after charging the net.
Brian Rafalski snapped a wristshot high over Miller from the slot after collecting yet another of Madden's rebounds, while Scott Gomez recorded his 16th goal of the season after Patrik Elias' offering for the left wing couldn't be controlled by the Sabres netminder to give New Jersey the 3-1 lead heading into the third.
Vanek brought Buffalo to within a goal of the Devils with less than two minutes remaining in regulation. Receiving the puck at the Devils blueline, the rookie muscled his way between Richard Matvichuk and Rafalski before beating Brodeur with a high wristshot. The goaltender got a piece of the offering with his glove, but not enough.
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1-0 (17:22): Maxim Afinogenov receives a nice pass from Derek Roy from the slot and slides the puck into the open net. The power-play goal is Afinogenov's 10th of the season and fifth on the man advantage. Roy and Nathan Paetsch record the assists. The point is Paetsch's first of NHL career.
1-1 (19:16): On an odd-man rush and with only 44 seconds remaining in the first, Jamie Langenbrunner slaps the puck past a sprawled out Ryan Miller to tie the game. The tally is Langenbrunneris his seventh of the season. John Madden and Paul Martin record the assists.
1-2 (2:36): Brian Rafalski converts on a rebound off John Madden's shot from the slot with a high wristshot. The goal is Rafalski's fifth of the season. Madden records his second assist of the game, while Jay Pandolfo gets his first.
1-3 (6:01): Off another rebound, Scott Gomez records his 16th goal of the season. Ryan Miller couldn't control Patrik Elias' shot from the left wing, leading to the easy scoring chance for Gomez. Elias and Brian Rafalski get the helpers.
2-3 (18:22): Thomas Vanek splits two New Jersey defensemen and beats Brodeur with a high wristshot on his glove side. The goal is Vanek's 12th of the season. Henrik Tallinder records the only assist.