Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) - The Buffalo Sabres traveled to Ottawa on Wednesday to play their second game in as many nights, taking on the Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre.
The string of tough first periods the Sabres have had recently continued, as Ottawa got on the board first with a goal from forward Austin Watson. Buffalo couldn't muster any goals, despite having four power play opportunities in the period.
The Sabres started the second period with a short two-man advantage but weren't able to produce any offense from it.
However, on their fifth power play opportunity of the game, Tage Thompson was able to score his 12th goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1.
The tie wouldn't last long, though, as Senators forward Brady Tkachuk scored just three minutes later with a power play goal of his own.
Things didn't get any better in the third period for the Sabres. Both Zemgus Girgensons and Eric Comrie left the game with injuries in the second period and didn't return for the final frame. The Senators also tacked on two more goals from Alex DeBrincat and Tim Stuzle, making the final 4-1.
While the Sabres did have a better effort than their game against the Vancouver Canucks the night before in Buffalo, they still were not at all where they needed to be performance wise.
Here are this game's three observations:
1.) Powerless power play
The Sabres' power play has had more ups than downs this season, which is a welcome change compared to years past. Prior to this game, the team sat at 10th place in the NHL, in terms of power play success rate.
The power play in this game, however, was absolutely abysmal.
Buffalo amassed a total of eight power play chances, a team record in one game, but only scored once. There was one occasion where the team was on a two-man advantage, as well as another early on in the game that was called a double-minor.
They failed to score on any of those attempts.
Whether it was problems entering the zone, passing too much without getting a shot off, or even killing your own power play by taking a stupid penalty, the Sabres seemed to hit all the wrong buttons in this game.
2.) Effective shooting
Another bright spot that the Sabres had shown this season that hasn't been relevant in years past was the team's high shot volume. Up until the past few games, Buffalo could generate smart shots that got to the net and created great chances for the team.
During this losing streak, the Sabres have done the exact opposite. They seem to always pass the puck when they should shoot, and shoot the puck when they should pass.
More effective shots will bring back the team that everyone watched in the first 10 games of the season.
3.) What happened?
It's a simple, yet glaring question. What happened over the course of 17 games for a team to go from 7-3, second place in the division and dominating teams, to then losing seven-straight and flying down the standings to second last in the Atlantic?
This has happened many times throughout the 11 years of the playoff drought, but nothing ever seems to change. While it is an 82-game season, most teams are almost one quarter of the way through the year already.
The Sabres need to right the ship, and do it quickly if they have any hope of, at least, improving from last season's record.
The Sabres continue their short road trip next in Toronto against the Maple Leafs on Saturday evening. This is the first meeting of the year between the two teams.
Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. EST with pregame coverage starting at 6 p.m. EST with Brian Koziol and Paul Hamilton on the radio home of the Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.