Ted Nolan is beginning to sound helpless in his effort to get the Buffalo Sabres playing at a higher level, and the coach’s players aren’t exactly offering any solutions.
Such is life for the worst team in the NHL, which looks to avoid a fourth straight loss as it visits the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.
The Sabres (3-11-2) have only one non-shootout victory, scoring the fewest goals in the league (18) while allowing the most (53). Issues have mounted at both ends of the ice as well as on specials teams, all of it compounded by Saturday’s 6-1 loss to Pittsburgh.
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Buffalo scored fewer than three goals for the 15th time, and its three failed power plays dropped it to 2 for 50 for a league-worst 4.0 percent conversion rate.
"The only thing we have control over is putting them on the ice," Nolan said. "We can’t skate for them, we can’t shoot for them, we can’t compete for them.
"You run out of words. Except you say it over and over again – you can’t quit."
The Sabres’ effort is coming into question, too, which doesn’t bode well for a team that often enters each contest at a talent disadvantage.
"Each individual in here needs to look at themselves and do their job, and then collectively as a group we can come together," said Drew Stafford, who has a team-best eight points. "It can’t be one guy here, one guy there. We’re running out of things to say here. It’s just a matter of regrouping and coming back to work."
Zemgus Girgensons scored Buffalo’s lone goal against the Penguins.
"You can take my comments from one game, and it’s going to be the same thing," Girgensons said. "If you’ve got an effort and you can compete, it can be a close game. But if you don’t try … you see the result."
They likely won’t get any relief against a Blues team that won seven straight before falling 2-1 to Nashville on Saturday. It was a rare flat outing for St. Louis (9-4-1), which got on the board in the first with Jori Lehtera’s goal but tailed off from there.
"We looked slow and indecisive," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We weren’t sharp. We looked slow in the head, slow in the feet, and we made a lot of tired plays with the puck. We looked like a team that’s played a lot of hockey."
Vladimir Tarasenko had his four-game goal streak snapped, but he earned an assist on Lehtera’s goal. He has eight goals and four assists over his last seven games and has combined with linemates Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz for 17 points in the last five.
St. Louis’ top line of Paul Stastny, David Backes and Alexander Steen was on the ice for both Predators goals.
"Quite frankly, we’re sitting on one line doing everything for us right now," Hitchcock said. "We’re going to need a lot more from people if we expect to be good in (the Central Division)."
Brian Elliott made 33 saves as his four-start win streak ended. He’s 10-0-2 with a 1.74 goals-against average against Buffalo, though it’s unclear if he or Jake Allen will be in net.
Elliott made 24 saves in a 2-1 win April 3 to extend the Blues’ winning streak to four over the Sabres, who could counter with Michal Neuvirth in goal after he rested Saturday.