“It was an all-around weak effort from us,” said Buffalo defenceman Teppo Numminen, whose team was outshot 35-20 by the Leafs and fell 4-1 Saturday at Air Canada Centre in the final game of a home-and-home series.
“Our game is skating, and it seems like we weren’t skating today. It seems like we were one step behind the whole game.”
The Sabres overcame a 4-1 deficit Friday in Buffalo and beat Toronto 5-4, but another comeback was not in the cards against a Leafs team that is in a desperate battle to make the playoffs.
That was no excuse for Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.
“It shouldn’t (matter that the Leafs are desperate),” said Miller, who faced 16 Toronto shots in the first period and allowed three goals on 21 shots before being pulled in favour of Ty Conklin less than four minutes into the second.
“We should be (desperate), too. That’s a team we couldn’t match up against.
“We’re going to find soon that we’re going to be the desperate team if we don’t start playing good hockey.”
After Ottawa’s 7-2 win over Tampa Bay Saturday, the Senators trail Buffalo by five points for the Northeast Division lead. Though it is unlikely the Sens will catch the Sabres (Ottawa has just six games remaining), no one in Buffalo’s dressing room believes they can simply coast into the playoffs.
“If we want to be the big, bad team we think we are, we’re going to have to show a little more effort,” said Miller, whose team mustered just four shots in the first period against Toronto’s Andrew Raycroft. “We better start learning some lessons, because we can’t come back every night. It’s nice to have that capability, but we can’t get out-shot two nights in a row and look at it like we’re happy with our game.”
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said there was an easy solution to his team’s problems.
“We’re going to start shooting the puck,” Ruff said. “We’ve hit a point where we don’t even attempt to shoot now from bad angles or any angles. Even in the offensive zone coming off cycles we don’t shoot pucks, so we’re going to get back to putting more pucks at the net.”