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5 Observations: Sabres lose fourth straight, fall to Capitals 3-1

Sabres fall to Capitals
Posted at 9:20 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 21:20:26-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. [WKBW] — The losing streak is now at four games for the Buffalo Sabres after falling to the Washington Capitals 3-1 on Thursday night. With the loss, the Sabres are now 4-7-2 on the season.

5 observations from Thursday night:

Two goals, Nine periods

I can’t remember a stretch this bad at even strength. In three games this week, the Sabres have just two goals, and both have come from Victor Olofsson on the power play. The question going into these games is not if the Sabres will win, it’s if they’ll score a goal at even strength.

Put all the eggs in one basket

Good hockey teams get scoring from all four lines. The Sabres aren’t getting goals from any of their lines, so they might as well switch things up. Late in the second-period head coach Ralph Krueger put Jack Eichel on a line with Taylor Hall and Sam Reinhart.

For the time being, I think this combination needs to stick for the remainder of the road trip. As to be expected, the trio generated far more chances than the Sabres' other combinations when together. Put all the eggs in one basket and see what happens. It can’t get any worse than what we’ve seen in the three games this week.

Jokiharju struggles continue

On the Capitals' first goal of the night, Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju failed to clear the puck from behind Linus Ullmark and the puck ended up in the back of the net. To claim the Sabres defenseman has been struggling based solely on this play would be lazy. But time and time again this season, Jokiharju, who was strong last season, has struggled. When Rasmus Ristolainen is ready to return, it may be time to sit Jokiharju down for a few games.

Crucial turnovers

When it looked like the Sabres might have an opportunity to tie things up on the power play it blew up in their face. A strange zone entry by Hall and a turnover from Reinhart led to a 2-on-0 (!) for the Caps that resulted in a Tom Wilson goal.

A few minutes later, Tage Thompson spun around and sent a no-look pass to the middle of the ice directly to Wilson. Luckily for the Sabres, he also made an errant drop pass, so the turnover didn’t lead to another Capitals goal.

In the third, Rasmus Dahlin coughed it up in the neutral zone and it led to a Capitals rush in the opposite direction. Conor Sheary smacked home a rebound making it a 3-0 lead for the home team.

When you’re not scoring, every turnover becomes that much more critical.

A little support

Like many, I’ve been critical of the Sabres goaltending at times this season. But come on, what more can they do? In the three games since the COVID postponement, the goaltenders have allowed a combined eight goals. That’s really not that bad. Sure, there have been some goals both Ullmark and Hutton would want back, but with a completely ineffective offense, the goaltenders shouldn’t be getting very much criticism.