The Buffalo Sabres fell to 0-4-1 on the season following their 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at First Niagara Center on Thursday.
Thomas Vanek scored for Buffalo and Ryan Miller made 29 saves in the loss. Cam Atkinson, Marian Gaborik, Nick Foligno and Brandon Dubinsky scored for Columbus while Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 26 shots.
“[I was] minus-4 tonight. I’m not happy with my game,” Weber said. “I’m not happy with not getting my job done. I’m supposed to be helping keep pucks out of the net. I didn’t get that job done tonight. But again, it’s back to work tomorrow.”
Myers pointed out that the team doesn’t seem to be playing aggressively enough in key moments of games and that has led to errors on both ends of the rink.
“It’s very hesitant out there,” he said. “It looks like we’re scared to make plays so we’re ultimately chipping a lot of pucks, which is not necessarily a bad play at certain times, but there are plays out there to be made. It all starts with defensive positioning, decisions made and work made by myself and that’s something I need to make sure I consistently focus on to keep my game at a high level.”
Miller said that the team can learn a lot from these losses, but that they need to turn things around and start winning hockey games.
“There are expectations in here. It’s not just a learning season. This is about a chance to play for the playoffs and a play for a Stanley Cup and you’re not wasting time,” he said. We burned a few games here. We need to improve but I feel like again, there’s a foundation here and there’s enough talent here. We need to get over the hump and we have to play better. There’s no getting around it. But I think we will.”
Weber also made the assessment that the team is a bit too tentative at times and that they’re searching for answers to their on-ice troubles.
“We’ve got to find a way to take the hesitation out of our game. Find a way to generate offense. Find a way to bear down, make plays,” Weber said. “Again, if someone makes a mistake, we’ve got to find a way to bear down and help him out.”
Atkinson opened the scoring 1:51 into the game, but the Sabres were able to rebound rather quickly after that goal.
Vanek tied the game 8:50 into the period for his second goal of the year. After some good puck movement in the Columbus zone, Ott fed Vanek a pass in front of the net. Vanek put his stick between his legs and shot the puck through Bobrovsky’s five-hole.
With the goal, Vanek tied Craig Ramsay for fifth-most goals in Sabres history (252). Vanek now trails Danny Gare by 15 goals for fourth-most.
Foligno scored his goal to make it 2-1 from behind the Sabres net with 3:25 remaining in the first. Looking to throw a pass out in front to RJ Umberger, the puck deflected off the stick of Myers and then the skate of Weber to beat Miller.
Gaborik made it 3-1 with 1:12 to play in the first, one-timing a pass from Atkinson that found twine on an odd-man rush.
“They scored the first goal, but I thought we got back at it. We bounced back with a goal. We had a couple bad plays at the end of the first period to make you [down] 3-1 and deflate your bench at that point,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said. “…It’s a situation where you’ve gotta get out of that period 2-1.”
Columbus took a 4-1 lead 2:11 into the second period when Dubinsky collected a blocked shot off Weber and backhanded puck into the net.
Miller said that they’re going to take on a different mindset. The team next plays against the Stanley Cup-defending Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Saturday.
“The sting’s there and the motivation’s there and we have to keep moving forward,” Miller said. “It’s not an excuse to say we’re a young team. You can’t even use that right now. We’re a team in the NHL. We have good players. We have to execute and that’s the attitude we’re going to start taking and that’s what we’re going to start talking about. Clean it up, move forward and play some hockey.”