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Buffalo Sabres hope to go for series split against Islanders after 3-1 loss Monday night

The Sabres, playing for the first time in two weeks because of a COVID-19 outbreak, didn't have a single shot in the third period against the Islanders on Monday.
Credit: AP
Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel (9) skates during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Rangers, Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Perhaps the Buffalo Sabres lost their legs in the third period Monday night. In their first game back in 15 days against the New York Islanders, the Sabres did not record a single shot in the third period.

“I don’t think it was fatigue. I just think that we got away from our game a little bit and kind of got sucked into what feeds their game and that’s when you turn the puck over. They’re a team that knows how to play with the lead, they know how to lock things down. I just thought we fed into their game in the third period," Veteran forward Kyle Okposo said after the game.

It is what it is. It’s a bad period. It’s not a good period of hockey, not the way we want to play, but they’re a group that, like I said, knows how to play well defensively and they just sucked us right in in the third and we couldn’t dig ourselves out of the hole. The best part about it is... we’ve got another game coming up in less than 24 hours. So, we’ve got to have a short memory and learn from it, rectify it.”

The third period wasn't the only problem for the Sabres, as the five-on-five continued to struggle. The Sabres scored once on the power play in the 3-1 loss against the Islanders on Monday, and their five on five game continued to struggle.

"We just got to make a play. That's what it comes down to," Sabres Captain Jack Eichel said after the game. "We just have to make a play. It's been frustrating all season. It hasn't been there five on five. It seems like we're sloppy. I don't know we don't make a whole lot of plays. It's tough. It's tough to score goals in this league when you don't do that."

Credit: AP
New York Islanders forwards Brock Nelson (29) and Casey Cizikas (53) celebrate a victory with goalie Semyon Varlamov (40) following the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

The Sabres will try to rectify things Tuesday night against the Islanders, in the second game of their back-to-back series. They'll want to get an early lead to stay in it against a disciplined Islanders team.

“They’re a few years into a very consistent program where they have a group that is a hundred percent bought into what they do and they are as automated and as much of a machine in a positive way as any team in the National Hockey League right now," Head Coach Ralph Krueger said.

I respect the game that they’re playing. It’s a very high level of execution with minimal errors or mistakes. They give you almost nothing on a consistent basis and play extremely patient."

Hopefully for Sabres fans Tuesday night, they won't have to be patient much longer, waiting for the team's first win after a two-week break.