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Sabres slow Sharks’ roll with SAP Center win

After a brief hiatus in November, the Buffalo Sabres curse is back in San Jose.

The circumstances of the Sharks’ 3-1 loss were just as mystifying as the perpetually unimpressive Sabres’ 9-1 record in their last 10 games against San Jose. The two teams combined for zero penalties — something that has never happened in Sharks franchise history — and shot a collectively low 47 shots, nearly 13 below their combined averages.

Sharks Head Coach Peter DeBoer said:

“Obviously we’re not attacking enough holes, we’re not creating enough chances. That’s when you draw penalties, when you have the puck, you get people in bad positions so you can attack a hole, and someone has to pull you down.”

Power play opportunities have been a strong suit for the Sharks (32-20-6) this year, who rank third in power play conversion. Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon said:

“It’s weird, a game with no power plays, no penalties. I think there were a couple that could have gone either way for a couple of penalties. Obviously penalties are a big, key part in the game whether it’s at the end of a period or in the third when you’re pressing.”

The Sabres (25-30-7) scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third, when a Zach Bogosian wrist shot ricocheted off of Tomas Hertl’s foot and past the lowered glove of goalie Martin Jones.

Joe Pavelski said:

“They didn’t really have a whole lot (of chances). A couple took some weird bounces and ended up in the net. We had our chances to get ours and we didn’t capitalize when we had them.”

The Sharks needed just 1:28 to put their first and only score on the board, a Marc-Edouard Vlasic wrister that sailed untouched through a thicket of blue and white jerseys.

After an uneventful end to the first period and start of the second, the Sabres responded when a greased-up love tap from Johan Larsson inexplicably slipped through the pads of Jones.

An open-netter from Evander Kane near the end of the third sealed the Sabres’ fifth straight victory at SAP Center.

Dillon said:

“We had a good practice this morning, guys were focused. We definitely had the right game plan, that wasn’t it. We just have to regroup and get ready for the next one.

The Sharks travel to Vancouver to face the Canucks Sunday before returning to San Jose to take on the Montreal Canadiens Monday at 7:30 p.m.

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