The shots came from above the face off circles, outside the dots, and between the hashes all evening long, but none of them found their way to the back of the net.
"It's frustrating, me included, feel like you have so many chances but nothing connects and nothing goes in the net. We just have to keep working, play simple and keep doing the stuff we're doing well, and hopefully sooner or later we'll get those goals," Hampus Lindholm said on Prime Ticket.
Anaheim peppered the Buffalo net with 19 shots in the third period, but second period goals by Evander Kane and Jake McCabe put the Ducks in a hole they could not recover. The 47-35 shot attempts advantage at even strength for the game was misleading, as Anaheim held a 20-17 scoring chance edge and just 6-5 high danger chance margin. Many of Johnson's saves were on initial shots, with rebounds kicking past players looping through the slot or bouncing over sticks.
"We pushed in the third period, but that's the way we should've been playing to start the game. We need on a consistent basis our best players to be our best players, and I just don't think that's happening now," said head coach Bruce Boudreau on Prime Ticket.
Kane's goal came standing in front of the net, sneaking off the right post allowing Jack Eichel's shot to deflect off his skate and past John Gibson, who made 19 stops, for the game's opening goal at 2:36. Just over half the period later Cal O'Reilly (who drew in to the lineup due to an injury) fed a pass for defenseman McCabe dropping down from the point who finished to give the Sabres the 2-0 lead they'd enjoy after 40 minutes.
Jamie McGinn iced the game in the third, scoring on one of just six final frame Buffalo shots assisted by Rasmus Ristolainen and Josh Gorges.
Jiri Sekac looked physically well in his return to the lineup, as skating on the second line with Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg the trio were the top three forwards for the team in shot attempt differential. The Anaheim defense was thrown out of order in the first period when Josh Manson took a puck to the face during the first period, but he would return and finish the game with a unit-low 10:57 of ice time.
"I'm hoping the pride kicks in. We're in a situation where, thank god the teams in our division aren't doing very well, it still keeps us in it with 50 games to go. At the same time, we've gotta start doing something on our own. The will to want to succeed has got to be the thing that overtakes them and they become defiant and angry, rather than upset or woe is me," Boudreau said.
The Ducks have a night off before they continue the road trip against former Duck Kyle Palmieri, who is tied for the team lead with 13 goals and is second on the team in scoring with 25 points, and the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center at 4 PM PT on Saturday.