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Buffalo looking to improve after kicking off road trip with loss

TORONTO - Twenty-four hours after snapping a 10-game losing streak with a 10-1 drubbing of the visiting Atlanta Thrashers, the Buffalo Sabres were on the wrong side of the win-loss column yet again.

"We're just frustrated of losing," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff after a 4-2 defeat in Toronto against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

No wonder. The Sabres were winless for more than three weeks, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 17, going 0-5-5 with five losses coming in the shootout. To add to the exasperation, the extended slump came immediately after a six-game winning streak that was Buffalo's longest of the season and pulled the team into playoff contention in the tight Eastern Conference.

With last night's loss, the Sabres fall to 20-20-6 for 46 points and sit in 12th place in the East.

"Every time you lose, it's frustrating," said Sabres defenceman Henrik Tallinder.

"Sometimes you play good, sometimes you play bad. ...We need to start winning these games in the second half."

It won't be easy in the immediate future, as last night's game against Toronto was the first in a season-long seven-game road trip for Buffalo.

The Sabres travel to Phoenix to play the Coyotes on Monday, then go to Dallas to face off against the Stars on Thursday. Buffalo is then off for five days before games against Eastern foes in Tampa Bay, Florida, Atlanta and Boston.

"We haven't been getting the bounces we want," said Sabres defenceman Brian Campbell. "But we have to be better, too, and we need to be a little smarter as a team."

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