BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The NHL’s highest-scoring team is suddenly struggling to find the back of the net.

The Sabres lost their third home game in a row Thursday night, 4-2 to the Jets. Following the first shutout defeat of the season, 4-0 Monday against the Flyers, and Tuesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Kraken, the Sabres’ five-goal tally this week is their lowest in a three-game stretch this season.

One of the NHL’s top goaltenders thwarted the Sabres’ aggression in the offensive zone. Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck stopped 39 shots, posting a save percentage better than .950 for the 10th time this season.

“Hellebuyck looked like a sumo wrestler with athleticism. He was good,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “He was big and solid, and we did have enough opportunity right down to the last one when they got their game-winning goal.”

While All-Star Tage Thompson and Buffalo’s other top-line producers were kept off the scoresheet, Victor Olofsson tallied his 16th goal, and Tyson Jost got his fourth in 21 games with the Sabres.

Buffalo entered this week as the NHL’s only team averaging four goals per game. Opening a four-game homestand with a 6-5 overtime win Saturday against Minnesota, the Sabres’ eighth victory in nine outings put them on the fringes of playoff contention.

Now the Sabres (20-18-2) are skidding into midseason tied for 12th in the Eastern Conference with 42 points, six behind the Penguins for the final wild card. The Sabres’ scoring average has slipped to 3.83, just ahead of the Bruins (3.76) and Kraken (3.66) for best in the league.

The Sabres have had their opportunities to score. They out-shot the Jets 41-27, and had a 46-22 advantage in scoring chances, according to NaturalStatTrick. They went 0-for-5 on the power play, and are 1-for-10 this week after converting at 29% through the first 37 games. They are shooting 4.6% on this skid after leading the NHL at 12.4% before this week.

At the other end, goaltending has not been good enough for the Sabres to steal a win. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen returned from illness to lose his six-game win streak, stopping 21 of 24 shots. Buffalo has allowed four goals in each of this week’s losses, with an .869 SV%. Craig Anderson made 34 saves Monday, and Eric Comrie had 18 on Tuesday.

Tuesday night’s game was tied at 2-2 before Nikolaj Ehlers intercepted Rasmus Dahlin’s pass and sent the puck to Kyle Connor, who beat Luukkonen on a breakaway at 7:19 into the third period.

“(Luukkonen) was out pretty far,” Connor said. “I just gave him kind of a little fake shot and he froze pretty good. Backhand, forehand, lost an edge, but I had him, so it worked out.”

Prior to this skid, the Sabres scored 11 goals over five games of a season-long string of eight losses, with overlapping series of three games scoring six goals.

Buffalo visits Nashville on Saturday night before returning home for a Monday matinee against Anaheim.


Jonah Bronstein joined the News 4 roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Read more of his work here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.