BUFFALO, N.Y. - When the Sabres finished their bye week with a practice Wednesday, Kyle Okposo expressed concern that there was rust after staying away from the ice for nearly a week. Evander Kane, another Sabres forward, felt differently, saying you can't lose your skills or hockey conditioning after a few days.
Okposo was proven right less than two minutes into the Sabres next game; early in the first period, the Sabres allowed Rick Nash to score on a breakaway, forcing the Blue and Gold to play catch-up for the rest of the period.
"It comes down to defending and making sure we simplify," says Jason Pominville. "Get pucks deep early. Usually if you do that, you create zone time and momentum, and go from there. That might be a thing we have to do a little more. Especially early."
Sam Reinhart says the Sabres weren't aggressive enough in New York.
"We get away from the mindset of being aggressive off the ice," he says. "We let teams off the hook. I think if we're aggressive off the ice and coming back as well, that will alleviate some pressure."
The Sabres took a few positives from the 4-3 loss -- namely, success on the power play. The Sabres power play, which ranked dead-last in the NHL before Thursday, scored two goals against the Rangers, and now ranks second-to-last in man-up scoring.
"We're confident with each other now," says Ryan O'Reilly, a staple on the Sabres power play. "I think it's the first time in a long time that we get this feeling; go out on the ice, and we're gonna score or have some great looks. It's nice to have, and if we're gonna have success, it's gonna be a big part of it."
Head coach Phil Housley also sees improvement.
"I just think our movement is a lot quicker and crisper," he says. "I think we're shooting the puck more. It's the old saying - shoot pucks, and you'll get rewarded. That was the result yesterday."
Sabres will hope for more power-play production Saturday against the Dallas Stars, the team's last home game for a week and a half.