Rasmus Dahlin knows Buffalo must work for its opportunities. ©2023, Miceline Veluvolu

Sabres display skill, not enough work, in loss; Peyton Krebs scratched

PITTSBURGH – On the surface, pumping 35 shots on goal looks good, like the Buffalo Sabres created enough offense to win. Perhaps they just ran into a hot goalie.

While Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry played well in Saturday’s 4-0 win, he hardly stood on his head. The Sabres simply made it too easy for him in front of the 18,429 fans in PPG Paints Arena.

“We used our skill to create stuff but we didn’t get the rebounds, we didn’t get to the net front, we didn’t get the gritty stuff,” Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin said. “So our skill was there, not our work.”

In getting shut out for the first time this season, the Sabres lost for only the second time in regulation in seven games (4-2-1). It marked the sixth time in 15 outings they’ve registered two or fewer goals.

“We didn’t get enough second-chance (opportunities), and we’d love to have more guys to the net and a little bit more traffic around there,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “Would love to have a bounce, obviously, or a break, but you make your breaks. I believe that. I think we didn’t make our breaks.”

The Penguins received their break late in the first period, when Ryan Graves’ shot from the point deflected off the glass to Evgeni Malkin in the right corner. Malkin quickly backhanded the puck on net, and it hit Sabres goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s back and went in with 59 seconds left.

Still, Luukkonen looked sharp most of the night, stopping 36 shots, including 14 in the first period.

“I thought Ukko was really good despite the first goal,” Granato said. “Obviously, I’m sure he wishes he had that one back. … He was dialed in.”

Drew O’Connor scored in the second period before Erik Karlsson added two third-periods goals, including an empty-netter.

The Sabres on Saturday dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen for the second time in four games.

“It never works when you don’t win,” said Granato, whose Sabres beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-4 last Saturday using 11-7. “You’re not going to feel good when you don’t win. I don’t regret the choice by any means. We need to play better and that was a real challenge.”

Mattias Samuelsson, who returned from a lower-body injury, joined the six defensemen the Sabres dressed for Friday’s 3-2 home over the Minnesota Wild.

Up front, the Sabres scratched struggling center Peyton Krebs, who has mustered just one assist in 14 games this season.

Krebs, however wasn’t a healthy scratch.

When Granato was asked if Krebs needed to take a breath, Granato replied, “No, we’ll follow up on that. There’s more to it. I’ll follow up on that later.”

Prior to the game, the Sabres sent prospect Matt Savoie, who made his NHL debut Friday, back to junior.

The Sabres inserted winger Victor Olofsson, who has zero goals in nine games this season after scoring 28 times last year.

The Sabres’ power play went scoreless in two chances Saturday and has converted just five of its 45 opportunities this season, just 11.1 percent.

Last season, with the same personnel, the Sabres converted at a 23.4 percent rate.

“Sometimes you have to simplify,” said Sabres captain Kyle Okposo, who played his 999th NHL game. “I mean, you can analyze a lot of different things and we have a lot of guys that love the game in here. A lot of guys that watch the game of hockey, that think the game of hockey extremely well, that can play it at a high level. And I think that sometimes when things aren’t going well in one area of the game, sometimes the answer is to just simplify. And I think that that’s probably what we need to do.

“Just try to get pucks to the net and get them back and make plays from there. That’s probably what we’re going to have to do.”

An upper-body injury forced Sabres winger Alex Tuch to miss his second straight game. JJ Peterka took his place at right wing alongside center Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner.

Sabres center Dylan Cozens, who played right wing Friday in his return from what appeared to be a broken nose, moved back to the middle Saturday between Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons. Cozens is still wearing a full face shield.

Former Sabres forward Vinnie Hinostroza, who spent the last two seasons in Buffalo, played his third game for the Penguins.

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