A lack of production has plagued the Buffalo Sabres during the worst three-game start in club history.
Eager to improve offensively, the Sabres try again for that elusive first victory Tuesday night against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.
After Buffalo (0-3-0) tied for 22nd with an average of 2.46 goals per game last season, it's been outscored 7-2 through the first week of 2013-14. Veteran Thomas Vanek and 19-year-old Zemgus Girgensons have scored for the Sabres, who hoped the early sledding wouldn't be this rough even with three teenagers and five rookies in the lineup.
The Sabres haven't gone this long without a win to start a season since beginning 0-5-0 with two ties in 1999-2000.
"We're going to have to figure it out real quick because these losses are piling up," forward Cody Hodgson told the Sabres' official website.
Buffalo's two goals match the inaugural 1970-71 team for the fewest over the first three games. The Sabres opened with a 2-1 victory that season, but scored once while losing the next three.
Their 0-for-13 performance on the power play is the worst to open a season since the 1997-98 team went 0 for 16 through the first four.
Vanek scored in the third period of Saturday's 4-1 loss at Pittsburgh as the Sabres managed 21 shots, including 12 in the final 40 minutes.
"We didn't generate a lot,'' coach Ron Rolston said. "We just have to be a lot simpler than we are right now. We pass up opportunities when we do get them."
Ryan Miller has helped keep the Sabres competitive in the two games he's played, stopping 77 of 80 shots. Rolston hopes to have Miller in net after the former Vezina Trophy winner missed Saturday's loss with a lower-body injury.
Miller allowed three goals in splitting two starts last season at Tampa Bay (1-1-0), but has a 3.06 goals-against average while dropping his last two against the Lightning at home.
Buffalo outscored Tampa Bay 6-4 while winning two of three last season. Vanek has gone five straight without a goal against the Lightning, but has six assists during that span.
Tampa Bay went 0 for 5 on the power play and allowed two short-handed goals in a 3-1 loss at Boston on Thursday, but killed four of five penalties and converted its only chance with the man advantage in Saturday's 3-2 shootout win at Chicago.
The Lightning were outshot 12-0 in the first period and 39-16 for the game, but rallied from a 2-0 deficit with third-period goals from Martin St. Louis and Teddy Purcell. Valtteri Filppula added the shootout's lone score.
"I was looking for the police when we left the locker room because I thought we'd get arrested for stealing," coach Jon Cooper said. "We stole two points."
Steven Stamkos added two assists and Ben Bishop made 37 saves.
"A comeback win in this building says a lot about this team," said Bishop, who is expected to split time with Anders Lindback. "We know we have a lot to work on. We can play a lot better than that, but it's always good to get two points on the road."
Stamkos has five goals and five assists in his last 10 games versus Buffalo. St. Louis, however, has been held to one of each in his last five against the Sabres.
- Buffalo Sabres
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Thomas Vanek