|Sabres, young star Eichel invade Calgary|
CALGARY, Alberta -- The Buffalo Sabres are hoping the answers to their problems can be found in Western Canada.
The struggling Sabres begin a three-game road trip in Alberta Monday night after being thumped 7-1 at home on Saturday by the Dallas Stars in their worst beating of the season.
It left the Sabres (11-26-9) searching for solutions after surrendering seven goals twice in their past four games.
"We can say it in the room," defenseman Josh Gorges told the Buffalo News. "At some point we've got to look in the mirror. The onus is only on ourselves. ... How many years have we been talking about this, trying to turn the page, or what it takes to win? And no one's going to make us do it."
While the team as a whole is struggling, Western Canadian fans will get to see Buffalo's young star Jack Eichel for the only time this season at a time when he is shining.
Eichel picked up an assist on Saturday to give him 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in his past 14 games. He has 44 points this season.
Drafted second overall in 2015, Eichel will face the player chosen one spot ahead of him, Connor McDavid, in Edmonton on Tuesday. The Sabres move on to Vancouver on Thursday.
Eichel will make his first All-Star appearance in Tampa Bay on Jan. 28.
Another year of struggling has put the Sabres in the running for the No. 1 choice in the 2018 NHL draft, which is a lock to be Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. The Sabres are tied with the Arizona Coyotes for last place among the 31 teams with 31 points.
"It's a broken record. It's frustrating," said Sabres forward Kyle Okposo. "We've got to find a way to work. It shouldn't be a hard thing to do, to come to work and work. That's it. ... I don't know, it doesn't make sense to me. It doesn't make sense. I'm kind of at a loss for words right now."
The Flames' seven-game win streak came to an end when they dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon.
Hardly in a position to complain compared to his Sabres counterpart Phil Housley, Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan wants points badly now, knowing they will be valuable at the end of the regular season. "We're not going to be sitting here two months from now and going, 'Man, this is easy,' he said.
"We need points every night. We've gotta manufacture points. March 20 or whatever the date is, it's going to be tight in the standings."
While the Sabres look for answers in stopping goals, the Flames are riding the hot play of Mike Smith, who will make his 40th appearance of the season on Monday.
Gulutzan knows he's lucky to have Smith, who was acquired in a trade with Arizona last offseason. He's tied for 10th in the league in goals against (2.42) and seventh in save percentage (.925).
"It's that feeling to know that you have a chance to win every night," Gulutzan said. "And then there's a chance he can steal you a game, too. ... When you have that in net you sleep pretty good at night."