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UNLUCKY SEVENTH

Sabres lose seventh straight road game in 2-0 loss to Toronto

Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 10:44 PM / THE AFTERMATH
By Kevin Snow  - Sabres.com
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TORONTO – You can’t win if you don’t put the puck in the net, and the Buffalo Sabres continue to learn the hard way that the old adage still holds true.

Toronto did all their scoring in the first period, and Jonas Gustavsson posted his first career win against Buffalo as the Toronto Maple Leafs shutout the Sabres 2-0 at the Air Canada Center on Tuesday.

This loss was Buffalo’s seventh in a row on the road, and the sixth straight road game where they have scored two goals or fewer. The Sabres also dropped to 2-6-2 in their last 10 games, and have only scored one goal or less in five of the 10 games.

The lack of offensive production isn’t lost on head coach Lindy Ruff, who was left shaking his head again after watching his team outshoot Toronto by a 32-28 margin on the night.

“I’ve seen stretches where you don’t score. This might be my toughest stretch as a coach where pucks won’t go in the net.”

LISTEN TO LINDY RUFF'S FULL POST-GAME AUDIO

The Sabres were forced to play the final two periods without their leading goal scorer, as Thomas Vanek was felled by a stomach bug after playing just four minutes on six shifts in the opening period. Ruff said another unnamed player was affected too, and wouldn’t rule out food poisoning as the cause because they both ate at the same restaurant.

All the Toronto scoring came in the first period, and it started with more bad luck that came back to haunt the Sabres.

Moments after being robbed by Jonas Gustavsson’s glove hand, Drew Stafford took a delay of game penalty when his clearing attempt ended up inside the penalty box. Nikolai Kulemin wasted no time in getting Toronto on the board on the power play, stuffing the puck past Miller from the edge of the crease at 8:22.

Mikhail Grabovski then made it 2-0 when he sliced down the middle and roofed a backhand over Miller’s shoulder while eluding a diving Patrick Kaleta.
 
“It starts with the delay of game penalty with me shooting the puck over the boards giving them an early power play,” Stafford said. “They had another chance they capitalized on, on a neutral zone play. We turned it up after the start, but we lost a couple of guys and had a short bench. I thought we were making plays, getting pucks on net. But they just buried their chances.”

He’s a marked man, definitely a marked man ... I'm worried about him. - Lindy Ruff on Patrick Kaleta
While the Maple Leafs were one-for-three on the power play, the Sabres didn’t have one power play attempt for the first time since January 9, 2009. Ruff said he identified several plays throughout the game that he thought should’ve been called against Toronto.

“That was tough to figure out. They had one player who carried a puck a good two strides. They had (Nazem) Kadri who hit our player Leoopld in the same fashion (as Patrick Kaleta). There was calls there, I couldn’t figure it out.”

One of Toronto man advantage situations came after Kaleta was called for charging early in the third. In Ruff’s view, it was another instance of Kaleta being targeted by the officials.

“Kaleta just can’t hit anybody anymore. He can’t. Anytime he hits somebody it’s a penalty. He knows that. He can’t hit anymore.”

Ruff continued: “He’s a marked man, definitely a marked man. When Kadri can do what he did on Leopold, which is very similar. And Kaleta doesn’t leave his feet; I don’t think he hit him that hard. It used to be a good hit in the game and you’d get a penalty. I’m worried about him. I’m worried that he can’t play his game.”

NOTES: Derek Roy (upper body) and Christian Ehrhoff (upper body) were Buffalo’s scratches. Roy took the pre-game warmup, but was forced to miss his second straight game after being injured in Carolina last Friday. Ehrhoff was injured in Washington on December 30, and has now missed five games … Toronto has won two of the first three games in the six-game season series. The same two teams will meet again on Friday at First Niagara Center in a 7:30 p.m. faceoff.

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