BUFFALO – The quest for more offense continues for the Buffalo Sabres.
Brian Flynn scored the team’s only goal in their 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Monday at First Niagara Center.
Former Sabres captain Jason Pominville scored the game-winner on the power play with 9.7 seconds left in the second period. Kyle Brodziak also scored for Minnesota and goaltender Josh Harding stopped 21 shots.
Jhonas Enroth started the game in net for Buffalo and stopped 18 of 20 shots.
With the loss, the Sabres fall to 0-6-1 on the season. Through seven games this season, Buffalo has averaged just one goal per game
“It stings because obviously it’s another loss and we’re in the business of winning and production,” co-captain Steve Ott said. “There are some bright spots. We finally outshot a team [22-20] and held them to 20 shots, which is outstanding, but we come out on the losing end. [It’s a] lack of production from all of us, including myself and at the end of the day, losing’s just not an option.”
Sabres coach Ron Rolston liked what he saw out of the team’s third line, especially Flynn and winger Zemgus GIrgensons in terms of the offensive chances they generated. However, he wasn’t satisfied with his top two lines.
“We certainly need our top six to step up at the end of the day,” Rolston said.
The Sabres surrendered their lower number of shots against this season. But while the defensive effort is a positive they can look to, the consistent lack of production on offense is something the coaching staff will continue to work on with the players.
“You’re not going to win many games scoring one goal at the end of the day,” Rolston said. “They have to finish, finish some plays. Get to the net, finish plays.”
The Sabres didn’t receive much help from their power play units. Buffalo went 0-for-4 with three shots while up a man.
Enroth said he thinks the scoring woes are mostly mental in nature and that hard work will help pull them out of their current slump.
“We have a lot of good players that can put the puck in the net and right now I just think it’s in the guy’s heads,” he said. “Obviously the first couple games, we didn’t score and then it’s just been kind of a snowball effect here. We just have to try to get out it and keep working hard.”
The Wild got off to an early lead when Brodziak scored 5:23 into the game. On the rush during a delayed penalty, Cooke passed the puck to his right to Brodziak, who muscled through Cody Hodgson to put it in past Enroth.
With 4:56 remaining, Flynn scored to tie the game. He collected his own rebound off Girgensons’ rush down the left wing boards and roofed it over Harding. The goal was Flynn’s first of the season and the seventh of his career.
“I think we got a little bit of a lucky bounce there. [Wild forward Zach] Parise tried to dump it in and I think it off the ref and went back on a 3-on-2 the other way,” Flynn said. “[Girgensons] hung on to it, let me get in the slot and made a nice pass. I was just able to bang home the rebound.”
Pominville scored with 9.7 seconds left in the second period on the power play. Minnesota went 1-for-3 with the man advantage. On a give-and-go with Mikko Koivu, Pominville lifted the puck over Enroth’s left shoulder on the short side to give the Wild a 2-1 lead.
The game was Pominville’s first against the Sabres since the team dealt him to the Wild at the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline.
Buffalo next plays the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Ott pointed out the sense of urgency that must be prevalent when it comes to earning points if they want a chance to play in the postseason.
“We need wins. We need to start getting points here,” Ott said. “We need a lot more production from all of our guys here, like I said, including myself and we have to dig ourselves out of this.”