The Buffalo Sabres have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NHL this season and on Wednesday night they made history -- the kind of history no team wants to make. The Sabres fell 5-2 at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins, which marked the team's 15th consecutive game (0-13-2) without a win. That's good for the longest losing streak in the shootout era, which dates back to the 2005-06 season.
While Pittsburgh scored the opening two goals of the contest on Wednesday night, Buffalo answered with a tally from star defenseman Rasmus Dahlin and it appeared to be a close game out of the gate. However, the Penguins scored three of the final four goals of the game, including a third-period goal from captain Sidney Crosby.
It's been a brutal stretch for Sabres, who haven't tasted victory since defeating the New Jersey Devils, 4-1, back on Feb. 23.
Since then, this is a team that has scored just 25 total goals and been shut out on four different occasions. The Sabres also lost two overtime contests (one via shootout) and had a game postponed due to COVID-19 protocols.
A look at Buffalo's 15-game losing streak:
- Feb. 25 - lost 4-3 (OT) to Devils
- Feb. 27 - lost 3-0 to Flyers
- Feb. 28 - lost 3-0 to Flyers
- March 2 - lost 3-2 to Rangers
- March 4 - lost 5-2 to Islanders
- March 6 - lost 5-2 to Islanders
- March 7 - lost 5-2 to Islanders
- March 9 - lost 5-4 (SO) to Flyers
- March 11 - lost 5-2 to Penguins
- March 13 - lost 3-0 to Penguins
- March 15 - lost 6-0 to Capitals
- March 16 - lost 3-2 to Devils
- March 18 - lost 4-1 to Bruins
- March 22 - lost 5-3 to Rangers
- March 24 - lost 5-2 to Penguins
It doesn't help the Sabres that during the losing streak, they've have faced teams that have a combined record of 118-73-26. Aside from the Devils, every one of these East Division teams has a winning record, and they've faced the division-leading Islanders three times.
The Sabres also haven't been playing with their full roster during this skid. Earlier this week, star forward Jack Eichel was placed on injured reserve due to a neck injury. The former first-round pick has missed nine games and contributed just 18 points on the season. It's unclear when he'll return.
But nonetheless, the Sabres are closing in on history. If you look past the shootout era, since 1917 just three other teams have had longer losing streaks than Buffalo currently has. The Penguins (2003-04) lost 18 consecutive games while the Washington Capitals (1974-75) and San Jose Sharks (1992-93) lost 17 games.
That Penguins' streak was a season before Crosby came and ended up being the savior of the franchise.
Eichel may not stick around in Buffalo the way Crosby did in Pittsburgh. It's possible that the Sabres elect to attempt (another) rebuild and trade their star player -- though, according to TVA NHL reporter Renaud Lavoie, the Sabres are seeking four first round picks in exchange for Eichel on the trade market.
It remains to be seen if this dreadful Sabres' season will end with them getting the rights to the top pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, but lucky for them, the league is making changes to the draft lottery to help the worst teams in the league.