Buffalo N.Y. (WGR 550) - After a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lighting on Monday night, the Buffalo Sabres have now dropped two-straight games after winning two games prior. However, there is improvement on the horizon, as Buffalo was able to put up five goals against one of the best teams in the NHL over the last several years.
In three out of their last four games, the Sabres have put up, at least, five goals and came away with five out of a possible eight points.
Tage Thompson has been a big presence in more than one way for the Sabres, as he is ranked 10th in the NHL in points with 28. He added another two points (1+1) in Monday's loss to Tampa Bay.
However, the penalty kill has been a major issue for the Sabres during their recent stretch. In Monday's loss, the team gave up three goals with the other team on the man advantage, including one that tied the game at 5-5 late in the third period, and eventually forced overtime.
While the Sabres still have a young group, head coach Don Granato feels they backed off a bit too much after taking a 5-3 lead in the third period.
“It’s almost you get to the point where, ‘OK, we’ve done so much, let’s get this game over with.’ You can’t play that way,” Granato said during his weekly appearance on the "Howard and Jeremy Show" on Tuesday.
So far, the Sabres have been able to roll a decent four lines, with the one line that has lacked production being the Casey Mittelstadt line with Victor Olofsson and whoever filling in on the right wing. While he wants to see more production at 5-on-5, Granato has been happy with how the other lines have been playing, including the top line of Thompson, Alex Tuch and Jeff Skinner that scored twice against the Lightning.
“The good news is we have three lines we don’t want to mess with,” Granato said with Howard Simon and Jeremy White.
With one of the youngest teams in the NHL, Granato wants to keep his group together, as they have been getting into more of a scoring groove over the past few games.
"We want to trust these guys in to gain experience, unfortunately, like last night until it pisses them off so bad that their self-expectation rises, their intensity rises and they overcome it," Granato said.
Another area of their game that has struggled over the last several games has been in goal between the play of Craig Anderson, Eric Comrie (who's injured now) and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. Although Buffalo has ranked as one of the worst teams in the NHL in goals-against average, Granato does not want to put all the blame on goaltending.
“I know that 'UPL' [Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen] is a young guy, I’ve said it lots of times. He’s in a window of development,” Granato said.
The Sabres are back in action on Wednesday, as they look to get back on track against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena.
Hear more of Granato’s appearance during the “Howard and Jeremy Show” available in the player below: