Sabres running out of time as lowly Red Wings visit

NHL Hockey
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The Buffalo Sabres’ three-game winning streak in mid-January gave them hope of a playoff push.

That seems like a distant memory now, as they’ve lost four of their last five games. Buffalo, which hosts the last-place Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, has dropped to .500 for the season.

Following an overtime victory over Columbus to halt a three-game slide, the Sabres were blasted at home by Colorado 6-1 on Tuesday.

“I think there’s a lot of reflecting that needs to be going on and guys need to demand a lot more out of themselves than they have,” center Sam Reinhart told NHL.com.

Reinhart scored right before the horn to end the first period. The Avalanche scored four times in the second period.

“What happened then the next 20 minutes (is) truly unacceptable, and we have to do a deep dive on that,” Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. “Really disappointed. The goal that we scored at the end of the first seemed to bring us back into that start. … I thought we began by playing the game we wanted to play, but we just deserted it.”

The Sabres can rejoin the race if they get red hot. They play five of their next six games at home, including a pair of dates with the floundering Red Wings. But they need to regain the sharpness they showed while stringing together wins against Detroit, Vegas and Dallas from Jan 12-16.

“I think it’s all coming down to the players at this point,” Reinhart said. “I think that the systems and the game plans that are set out for us give us an opportunity to have success. I think it goes back to what I’m trying to preach here. Guys need to demand more out of themselves and a lot of guys need to step the (heck) up.”

Things have gone so sour for the Red Wings that just scoring a single goal has become a monumental task. They have been shut out at home by the New York Rangers and Philadelphia in two games this month, stretching their winless streak to nine games (0-8-1).

Detroit has gone scoreless for 129 minutes and one second.

“We just kept getting hemmed in (against the Flyers),” forward Luke Glendening told NHL.com. “But the time we got it out, we were exhausted and couldn’t ever really get anything going in their zone. Obviously, things aren’t going the way we want. Every time we think we’ve hit rock bottom, we go a little further.”

With a lack of offensive talent and two of their best forwards, Anthony Mantha and rookie Filip Zadina, out with injuries, the Red Wings have to grind out scoring chances. Their goal differential is an astonishing minus-96.

“We have to understand, if we’re not close to 100 percent our best, we’re not good enough,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Some teams can play at 90 or 85 and still skill their way to a win; we’re not doing that. … We have to understand we have to be from that 95 to 100 percentile every night, whether that’s mental preparation, whether that’s work ethic, whether it’s competitiveness, whether it’s getting yourself ready for a game, we can’t afford any kind of letdowns whatsoever.”

–Field Level Media

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