Buffalo’s Connor Clifton (left) and Jack Quinn fight for the puck Tuesday with Seattle’s Justin Schultz. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu

Defensive lapses doom Sabres in loss to Kraken: ‘It was the mistakes we made’

BUFFALO – The Seattle Kraken grabbed a commanding three-goal lead in the second period, and frustration immediately overwhelmed Sabres star Rasmus Dahlin.

Dahlin smashed his stick over the top of the net, looking more like a lumberjack than a defenseman, breaking it into two pieces.

The Sabres, having won two straight games for just the second time this season, began Tuesday feeling pretty good about themselves. As they started a six-game home stand, they had a terrific opportunity to close their disappointing first half and extend their short streak to begin making a playoff push.

Instead, after taking an early lead and dominating Seattle for much of the first period, they lost 5-2 before a surly crowd 14,628 fans in KeyBank Center.

The Sabres, who pumped 15 shots on goal before the game hit the 10-minute mark, trailed 2-1 after the opening 20 minutes.

Winger Alex Tuch’s goal tied the game 50 seconds into the second period, but Alex Wennberg put the Kraken up for good at 2:08, scoring a breakaway goal following a defensive breakdown.

The Kraken, which extended its franchise record-point streak to 11 games (9-0-2), scored on three of its five shots on goalie Devon Levi during the second period and registered just 11 shots in the final 40 minutes.

“We’ve got to keep pushing forward, and I thought we did that at times but nowhere near as consistent enough as we should have,” Tuch said. “I thought we lost our composure a little bit with how we wanted to play the game and how we wanted to play on our terms.”

While the Sabres limited shots by the Kraken and pumped 38 on goalie Joey Daccord, they kept committing gaffes.

“It was the mistakes we made,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “Simple as that. I don’t want to discredit them. … It was 2-2 at one point, they had (11) shots the rest of the way. I think you’d take that at 2-2, especially the way we were playing at that point, and it ends up 5-2. …

“I thought we pressed. When we gave up the third one, we just tied it on a really nice goal to start the second period and then we forget the responsibilities we have without the puck and it ended up in our net. That was disappointing. I think our group was a little deflated, and you can’t be. You’ve got to find a way to stay energized.”

Jaden Schwartz scored later in the second period before Matty Beniers grabbed a pass from former Sabres defenseman Will Borgen and beat Levi from the left circle, a shot Levi likely wants back.

That’s when Dahlin broke his stick.

“We’ve seen way worse frustration,” Granato said. “I think there was frustration, but I’m more concerned with some of the doubt there. And it’s not doubt in your ability, it’s more of a fear of losing, of failure. And that consumed us more than the excitement of, ‘OK, so what? We’re down two. Look up and down this lineup, we can score, we can get after it.’ …

“You hear it around the league (from) coaches, play without fear. Play fearless and aggressive and confident. We lost that 100-percent confidence and conviction that you can come back in a game.”

Forty-one games into the season, the Sabres have a 17-20-4 record, including a poor 8-10-1 home mark. They’re playing at a wretched 76-point pace over a full season.

Frustrated fans booed as the game progressed, and as the final seconds ticked away, they let the Sabres know how they felt again.

Granato moved center Tage Thompson early in the game, putting him between Jordan Greenway and Zach Benson. Casey Mittelstadt moved into Thompson’s spot on the top line between Tuch and Jeff Skinner.

Thompson, who had 10 points in his last seven outings, played just 14 minutes, 36 seconds against the Kraken, a season-low for a game in which he wasn’t injured. He recorded zero shots Tuesday for just the second time this season.

“He had a more challenging night, couldn’t get himself out of it and get going,” Granato said. “He’s been good for us lately and unfortunately tonight he didn’t have his game. He didn’t feel the way he wanted to feel, I’m certain of that, and that’s what happens. So we had Mittelstadt there and he looked like he had good jump.”

Notes: Skinner scored the Sabres’ first goal at 4:57, his team-leading 17th this season and the 350th of his career. … Skinner, Mittelstadt and Tuch each had two points. … The Sabres are 0-5-0 lifetime against Seattle. … Yanni Gourde scored the Kraken’s other goal.

One thought on “Defensive lapses doom Sabres in loss to Kraken: ‘It was the mistakes we made’”

  1. The players may have been frustrated, but so are the fans. Not being able to put up more than 2 wins in a row for half the season is not just sub-par for the amount of talent on this team, it’s absurd. They need to discipline themselves to work every game for 3 full periods.
    One bright spot is Casey Mittelstadt. He consistently makes plays and is involved in the game. In some respects, at least this season, he has been more valuable than Tage Thompson. He seems ready to play evary game. Thankfully, the trade Mittelstadt baloney has died down from previous seasons. It would have been a huge mistake. Obviously, Thompson has had some difficulties with injury, but the team needs him going full speed every game. There’s really no excuse for their current record, especially at home. It keeps looking more and more like another season of missing the playoffs. The big name, big contract guys need to assert themselves now. Taking blame for poor play is all fine and dandy, it’s time to do something about it.

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