Along with Bernie Nicholls, who missed 10 games with a broken finger, the Kings' offense returned Wednesday night.
Unfortunately for the Kings, their habit of making critical errors at crucial times also turned up again.
Dave Andreychuk scored with 57 seconds left to give the Buffalo Sabres a 5-4 victory before a crowd of 8,587 at the Forum.
The Sabres' John Tucker chased down a rebound in the corner, wrestling the puck away from Bob Carpenter and sending it to Andreychuk, whose shot from the slot beat goaltender Glenn Healy.
"It was a lucky goal for us," Andreychuk said. "We were lucky to get an opportunity like that at that point in the game."
Said Coach Mike Murphy of the Kings: "We fumbled with the puck in our zone a couple of times, and then we got outfought for the puck in the corner. And that just can't happen in the last minute of a game."
Andreychuk's goal enabled the surprising Sabres (6-4-3) to beat the Kings for the second time in five days and extend their unbeaten streak to four games.
Last season, when their 28-44-8 record was the worst in the National Hockey League, the Sabres didn't win their sixth game until Dec. 14, at which time they were 6-20-4.
The loss was the third straight for the Kings, who are 3-9-1.
Asked if the Kings feel pressure to win at the Forum, where they are 1-5, Murphy said: "We're having trouble winning in any building."
The return of Nicholls figured to help. And Nicholls, who hadn't played since breaking his left index finger Oct. 10, tied the game when he scored his first goal of the season with 12:12 left, only to have his return to the lineup ruined by Andreychuk.
The Kings twice squandered leads. They were ahead by 2-1 and 3-2 scores.
Adam Creighton broke a 3-3 tie for the Sabres when he stole a clearing pass from Tom Laidlaw and scored an unassisted goal with 13:18 left.
"We made some real giveaway plays that they scored on," Murphy said. "You just wonder what the players are thinking of. To me, it looked like some of our players weren't in shape."
One who looked pretty good was Nicholls, whose finger was bandaged and heavily taped. It's not completely healed, but Nicholls said he grew restless watching the Kings flounder while he was sidelined.
"When the guys are struggling and you know you can help the team a little bit, it's tough to just sit and watch," he said before the game. "The guys have been right there in a couple of games, and maybe a little help might put them over the top."
Apparently, it's going to take more than a little.
The Kings scored twice in the first period after withstanding a furious rush by the Sabres in the first three minutes.
Less than 20 seconds into the game, Healy stopped a shot from point-blank range by Andreychuk. It was the first of 33 shots he would face.
Two minutes later, Healy stopped another shot right in front of the net, this one by Christian Ruuttu.
In between, rookie Pierre Turgeon, the No. 1 pick last June in the National Hockey League draft, gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead when he scored the first of his two goals at 2:09 on a wrist shot from the right circle.
The Kings tied it on a goal by Dave Taylor, who scored on a deflection of a shot by Bryan Erickson. The shot by Erickson, recalled Monday from New Haven (Conn.) of the American Hockey League, appeared to deflect off Taylor's glove.
With 5:03 left in the period, Luc Robitaille scored on a rebound to give the Kings a 2-1 lead that lasted only 50 seconds into the second period.
Turgeon beat Sean McKenna to the puck in the left circle and kind of chopped at it, sending it over the left shoulder of Healy, who seemed to lose sight of it and didn't react.
It was a power-play goal, the first given up in three games by the Kings, who had killed 17 straight penalties.
A back-handed shot by Carpenter, who had his back to the net as he shot from the right circle, gave the Kings a 3-2 lead with 16:56 left in the period.
Again the Sabres tied it, scoring another power-play goal when John Tucker took a pass in the slot from Mike Foligno and knocked it past Healy as he fell to the ice.
Defenseman Grant Ledyard flew to Winnipeg, Canada, Tuesday to attend the funeral of a friend and missed the game. He was expected to be back in time for today's practice. . . . Dean Kennedy said the swelling in his broken left index finger has subsided and he might be able to play Saturday night against the New York Rangers. Kennedy said he cracked a bone in the finger when he blocked a pass by the Sabres' Adam Creighton in the first period of Friday night's game at Buffalo. Creighton's stick sliced through a crease in his glove, Kennedy said. . . . Bryan Erickson, surprised when the Kings assigned him Oct. 12 to New Haven of the American Hockey League, said his recall this week caught him unaware, too. He had no points in three games at New Haven. Bothered by a groin injury all through training camp, Erickson said: "I'm still trying to get back into shape." He skated Wednesday.