OPINION: Three observations: Sabres fail to score 5-on-5 again in loss to Islanders

Buffalo gets shut out at even strength for the second-straight game
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By WGR 550 SportsRadio

The Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders met for the second time in as many nights on Tuesday at KeyBank Center, and things went just about the same as they did on Monday.

A couple of quick goals from Islanders forwards Anders Lee and Jean-Gabriel Pageau allowed New York to set the tone early, and they controlled the game the rest of the way in a 3-0 win over the Sabres.

Let's take a look at what we observed from Tuesday's game:

1.) Islanders stifle Sabres at 5-on-5 for the second-straight night

The Sabres had plenty of chances in the third period to change the story, but the Islanders, once again, successfully shut the Sabres out at even strength for the second night in a row.

According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Sabres generated a total of 12 high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5, but couldn't figure out how to solve Islanders rookie goaltender Ilya Sorokin. Sorokin registered his first NHL win and shutout on Tuesday in his fourth NHL game.

The line of Rasmus Asplund, Riley Sheahan and Tage Thompson were, arguably, the Sabres' most effective line on Tuesday night, generating a 75% high-danger scoring chance percentage. Thompson was shifted up to Jack Eichel's line later in the game, with Jeff Skinner slotting in with Asplund and Sheahan.

Ultimately, no line was able to convert any type of scoring chance.

2.) Skinner fails to impress on the Eichel line

Since scoring 40 goals primarily on a line with Eichel a couple of seasons ago, Skinner hasn't been able to find the back of the net as regularly as he once did. Since that season, Skinner hasn't played as much with Eichel, but on Tuesday, Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger finally gave in and matched them up on a line together.

He did not like what he saw.

Skinner ended up being switched off the line in the middle of the game, but he found some success playing with Rasmus Asplund and Riley Sheahan.

Eventually, the Sabres have to figure out how to get Jeff Skinner going on the stat sheet, but for now, Skinner's best asset is providing a depth line with a boost of speed and the occasional offense.

3.) The luck simply isn't going their way

The Sabres sit at 30th place in the league in PDO.

PDO is essentially the "luck" stat in the NHL. By adding team shooting percentage and team save percentage, you'll get a number that, in general, regresses to 100% one way or the other. Teams with a PDO below one are considered unlucky, while teams with a PDO above one are considered lucky. It's an oversimplification, but it works to make this point.

The Sabres have a PDO of .963. Their team shooting percentage at 5-on-5 is just 5.58%, while they're saving just over 90% of their shots.

Eichel had a career year shooting the puck last season, scoring on 15.9% of his shots. His career shooting percentage sits at 10.7%.

This season, Eichel is shooting at just a 4.8% rate, which would be a career-low for him. In general, players tend to regress to what their career average is over a long period of time. At some point, the shots for Eichel are going to start going in.

The Sabres brought in Taylor Hall to score goals, a thing he's been pretty good at doing for his entire career. His career shooting percentage is similar to Eichel's at 10.3%. This season, Hall is shooting at just a 3.3% rate - again, a career-low.

Against the Islanders on Tuesday, the Sabres kept up for the most part, but they just could not figure out the Islanders' rookie goalie. The flood gates will eventually open for them, or at the very least, they should start to get some of their shots to start going in.

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The Sabres will get just one night off before finding themselves back on the ice, this time in Washington, D.C. to take on the Capitals at Capital One Arena. Puck drop takes place at 7 p.m. EST on Thursday night. You can hear the entire broadcast, along with the Paul WIlliam Beltz Pregame Show with Schopp and the Bulldog, starting at 6 p.m. EST on the radio home of the Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.

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