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Sharks hoping for scoring surge vs. Sabres
Through two games, the San Jose Sharks are struggling to put the puck in the net and their captain said he believes the poor play may be indicative of a deeper problem.
Coming off a long break, the Sharks reach the midpoint of a season-opening five-game homestand Thursday night when they take on the Buffalo Sabres, who are dealing with their own puck issues.
After losing their season opener Oct. 4, the Sharks fell 4-1 to Los Angeles on Saturday night. Mikkel Boedeker scored for San Jose (0-2-0), which hasn't started a season with three straight losses since 1993-94, when it went dropped four straight en route to a nine-game winless stretch that included one tie.
Logan Couture, who has one of the club's four goals this season, doesn't think it's time to panic yet.
"There should be some urgency," he told the Sharks' official website Tuesday. "When we come to the rink and practice, whether it's myself or a player who has been here a little while, we need to be better."
San Jose is still looking for Brent Burns to flash some of the offense he produced last season while winning his first Norris Trophy. Burns has one assist and a minus-5 rating after leading all NHL blueliners with 29 goals and 76 points while posting a plus-19 rating in 2016-17.
"I respect that everyone is coming to the rink ready to play, but we're missing something. Just mentally we know we've got another level," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski told the league's official website.
Pavelski, who tied Burns for the team lead in goals last season, has one assist.
San Jose was 1-0-1 versus Buffalo last season. Pavelski scored twice as the Sharks snapped a five-game home losing streak to the Sabres with a 4-1 victory March 14.
Buffalo (0-2-1) begins a four-game road trip through California and its first visit to Las Vegas after falling 6-2 to New Jersey on Monday.
"Our resilience has to be better because we're faced with adversity and we're not facing it the right way," Sabres first-year coach Phil Housley said Monday. "We're seeing a little bit of a lull in our game and we're not reacting the right way."
Evander Kane registered his second straight two-goal game. He's taken 26 of the team's 99 shots and scored four of its seven markers.
Last season, Kane led Buffalo with 28 goals in 70 games, while Jack Eichel -- who's notched one goal in 2017-18 -- had 24 in 61 contests.
However, the Sabres are not generating offense from other veterans. Ryan O'Reilly, Kyle Okposo and Matt Moulson have combined for one assist and are a minus-12.
"There's many things that we have to do differently. There's not one thing, there's piles of things," said O'Reilly, who was second on last season's club with 55 points. "... Last three games, I've been useless. It's not good enough."
The Sabres also have been abysmal with the man-advantage. The club surrendered four short-handed goals to match its total from 2016-17.
"We're shocked. We think we're going to score in the back of our net and then have it happen again and again and again, it's just, it's very disappointing," O'Reilly said.
The Sharks and Sabres are in bottom third of the league in goals per game.
"This is a hard league," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "You have to pay a price to win games, and we haven't done that enough."
Housley echoed DeBoer.
"It's so hard in this league to win. Every team is very good and everybody is fighting for something and we have to understand how hard it is to win and to compete," he said.
Updated October 11, 2017