NEW YORK – The Buffalo Sabres have earned at least a point in seven of their last eight road games against the New York Rangers and will look to avoid a season sweep on Thursday.
Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from Madison Square Garden.
Stafford and Tallinder, who both serve as alternate captains, have each missed the past four games due to injury.
Tallinder, 35, is the oldest player on the team and is happy to be able to play in the team’s final three games of the season.
“I think it’s just trying to finish what you started. I’m just looking forward to playing again,” he said after the team’s morning skate at MSG. “You never like to be sitting out or being hurt and stuff like that, so I’m just happy that my body feels healthy again.”
He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and he said he wants to keep playing hockey, preferably in the NHL. He said he isn’t going to close the door on any potential opportunity and that includes returning to Buffalo next season.
“I love hockey more than ever almost even though it’s been a tough year,” he said. “But when you get older, you kind of learn to appreciate what you have. This is what I love to do so I’m going to keep playing as long as I can.”
The Sabres have a lot of young players in the lineup, particularly on the blueline. They dressed three rookies last game but sent Mark Pysyk back to Rochester of the American Hockey League on Thursday because of Tallinder’s pending return.
Tallinder said he hasn’t had to change his game much as he’s gotten older, but has learned that it takes a little bit longer for older players to warm up to the speed of the game.
“I don’t have the jump that I used to have, maybe, but you know what? I always try to explain this to people. It’s tough to explain, but when you get older, you’re kind of like a diesel engine,” he said. “It takes a while to get going, but once you get going, it’s OK. Then you can compete with these – I don’t know, what do you say – jet fuel that they have. Once you’re in and you get going, you can compete with anyone.”
Zenon Konopka worked with the assistant coaches after practice and looks to be one of Buffalo’s healthy scratches. Nolan said that John Scott would take warmups just in case Tallinder faces a setback.
Matt Hackett will start in goal against Henrik Lundqvist.
Chris Stewart and Marcus Foligno were two Sabres forwards that returned from injury in the team’s last game. Sabres coach Ted Nolan tried them together on a line with Tyler Ennis at center. After the game Nolan said he was hoping for a little bit more from them.
With a few extra days of practice in, Nolan said some of the rust should be shaken off.
“I was hoping but then reality checks in. Stewart, you have to give him full marks for the work and effort he put in to get back in the lineup. We didn’t think he was going to be in at all. But he’s worked extremely hard to get back in,” Nolan said. “Marcus, the same thing. We thought he was done for the year and then he worked to get himself back in.
“But then I forgot about the timing aspect of the game and a little rustiness and your timing’s off a little bit. So, hopefully tonight they’ll be a lot better.”
At practice on Wednesday, Stewart was on the left wing with Ennis and Stafford while Foligno was on a line with center Brian Flynn and right wing Matt D’Agostini. The Sabres did not do any line rushes during their morning skate on Thursday.
Nolan said after the skate that he’ll mix the lines up to try and find a balanced four-line attack.
Ennis has 12 points (4+8) in 13 career games against the Rangers, including two of his six career three-point games, which came on April 6, 2010 and on March 23, 2012. Stafford has seven points (6+1) in his last seven games against the Rangers.
Cody Hodgson has recorded consecutive multi-point games for the second time in his career entering the game against the Rangers. The last time he’d done that was on March 19, 2012 at Tampa Bay and March 21, 2012 against Montreal.
He has never had three straight multi-point games. In 69 games played, Hodgson has already set new career highs in assists (24) and points (43). He’s also matched his career high in goals with 19.
Leino and Konopka will be healthy scratches while Sabres coach Ted Nolan hopes Stafford will be recovered from injury in time for Buffalo’s game against the New York Rangers on Thursday.
It’s unlikely that either Ruhwedel or Lieuwen will be ready for any of Buffalo’s final four games of the season. They sustained concussions on separate plays in the third period of Buffalo’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.
The NHL Department of Player Safety announced on Monday that Zac Rinaldo has been suspended four games for his illegal check to the head of Ruhwedel.
Lieuwen was hit in the head by Flyers forward Jay Rosehill as Rosehill cut across the goal crease late in the game. Lieuwen was not feeling well after the game and Nolan announced Monday morning he had also been diagnosed with a concussion.
Both players have been instructed by doctors to stay home and get plenty of rest.
An explanation of Rinaldo’s suspension decision can be found here:
Nolan said he would’ve liked to have seen a longer sentence handed out.
“Those types of hits have to be out of our game. You’re not talking about injuries knocking a guy out for a week or two weeks. You can knock his career right off the tracks and we all see what concussions do to some of our athletes after the fact,” he said after the team's morning skate on Tuesday. “So it’s a very, very serious thing and I think we have to take it a lot more seriously than just four games.”
Mark Pysyk has been recalled from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League to take Ruhwedel’s place in the lineup.
Pysyk joins the Sabres for his second recall of the year and third stint in Buffalo this season after beginning the 2013-14 season with the team.
He has appeared in 42 games with the Sabres this season, recording six points (1+5). While playing with the Amerks in 2013-14, Pysyk has notched 12 points (1+11) through 27 games played. He recently missed about two weeks due to injury, but said he’s feeling fine now.
He’s going to look to keep things simple and continue to develop his game.
“I didn’t think I would get another look. I think the injuries, obviously, there’s been a ton up here and I got the call last night – definitely excited for the opportunity,” he said. “It’ll be fun to play here again. That’s what I’m going to do: just have fun and make the most of the exposure I’m going to get here.”
Nolan said he can tell the time in Rochester has helped Pysyk grow as a player. He also compared his development to the way the Red Wings try to keep their prospects in the minors until they’re ready for the NHL.
“I think with his development, he’s just getting more mature. We get back to the question about Detroit and how they develop. That’s how they develop,” Nolan said. “They put those kids on the farm team and let them mature, let them grow and that’s exactly what Mark is doing. And he’s going to be a great player for us down the road.”
Makarov will back up Hackett against Detroit and in New York when the Sabres play the Rangers on Thursday. However, Rochester plays on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so Makarov will rejoin the Amerks and general manager Tim Murray will have to find another backup goaltender.
“That’s where Tim has to work his magic,” Nolan said. “I’m not quite too sure what we’re going to do.”
After tonight’s game, Makarov will have dressed in games in the ECHL, AHL and NHL.He'll become the 45th player and eigth goaltender to dress in a game for the Sabres this season.
Stewart will play in his first game since March 6 when he sustained a lower-body injury after colliding with Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback. His injury was originally thought to be season-ending, but he’s worked hard with the training staff to get back on the ice ahead of schedule.
Nolan is looking forward to seeing what Stewart can bring to the lineup.
“I’m really excited about him. Last time he played with Marcus, that was probably Marcus’ best game he played for us since I’ve been here,” Nolan said. “He’s probably going to be a little bit rusty, but it’s good to get him back in the lineup for sure.”
The team acquired Stewart as part of the trade that sent Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues and at 6-foot-2, 231-pounds, he brings a big, physical element the Sabres don’t have in abundance.
“Stewart’s a power forward in the real sense of the word. He’s a big man,” Nolan said. “He can play any way you want to play so for us to get him in that trade deadline, it’s exactly what we need.”
Ehrhoff will be in the lineup after taking a puck to the ear late in the game on Sunday. His right ear was cut as a result and required approximately 40 stitches to repair it. Naturally, he’s been given some new nicknames by his teammates.
“It’s ‘Ear-off.’ That’s the most common one I think,” he said. “But I guess when I have a situation like that, the jokers, they always come out pretty quick, too.”
Ehrhoff said he experienced a similar situation when he was with the Vancouver Canucks. A dump-in caught him in the other ear. He said that wasn’t as serious an injury as the one he’s now recovering from.
As part of Fan Appreciation Month, there will be a guaranteed $30,000 50/50 pot during the game with a second chance lottery winner for $1,000 pulled at www.sabresraffles.org.
Fans attending the game will also be able to save 40 percent off at the Sabres Store Powered by Reebok and save on select concession stand items ($3 peanuts, $3 candy and $3 nachos). Also, 26 season-ticket holders will be randomly selected to win autographed Sabres jerseys throughout the game.
Fan Appreciation Night presented by ADPRO Sports is set for the season finale on Sunday. A Party in the Plaza presented by Tops Friendly Markets will be held from 2:30-4:30 p.m. outside First Niagara Center. The Sabres, along with their Gold Ring Partners, will present the annual team awards for MVP, Rookie of the Year and Unsung Hero as well as the 7th Man Award.
Fans attending that game will also be treated to a pregame handout, a 40 percent off discount at the Sabres Store, as well as discounted concession prices including hot dogs ($2), pizza slices ($4) and souvenir sodas ($3).
More information on Fan Appreciation Month can be found here.
82 Marcus Foligno – 63 Tyler Ennis – 80 Chris Stewart
19 Cody Hodgson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 17 Torrey Mitchell
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 22 Johan Larsson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
88 Cory Conacher – 37 Matt Ellis – 65 Brian Flynn
PHILADELPHIA – The Buffalo Sabres wrap up their three-game road trip Sunday night in Philadelphia and will field the same lines and defensive pairings as they did against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday.
However, changes could be coming soon because as many as four injured players could return to the lineup in the next few days.
Marcus Foligno skated with the team Sunday morning at Wells Fargo Center after sustaining a lower-body injury on Thursday. He fell hard in front of the St. Louis Blues net on his first shift and had to be helped off the ice. It was an injury that Sabres coach Ted Nolan thought might end Foligno's season.
“I was very shocked and quite surprised that he was able to walk around yesterday and all of a sudden to see him on the ice today, so it’s very encouraging news,” Nolan said.
Chris Stewart was also on the ice and Nolan said he wanted to play tonight, but the training staff thought it would be best to hold him out of game action for at least a few more days. He’s been out since March 6 with a lower-body injury that occurred in a collision with Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback.
Initially, Stewart was considered out for the rest of the regular season.
Neither will play against Philadelphia, but and said there’s a good chance that both Foligno and Stewart could play Tuesday night when the Sabres host Detroit
Nolan credited the training staff for helping with their speedy recoveries.
Foligno and Stewart might not be the only ones back Tuesday night, either.Tyler Myers could return from his injury before the regular comes to a close on April 13, according to Nolan, but injured goaltenders Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth are likely be done for the year.
Nathan Lieuwen will start for the Sabres as they seek to earn their first win in Philadelphia since March 5, 2011.
Faceoff between the Sabres and the Flyers is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and can be seen nationally in the United States on NBCSN and on TSN2 in Canada.
Mike Weber did not participate in the morning skate, but he’ll suit up against the Flyers. He’s fighting through a lower-body injury as well.
“He’s a trooper,” Nolan said. “You can question certain parts of his game, but you can never question his heart. He’s been playing extremely banged up the last couple games. He had another day off today, but he’ll play tonight.”
With the potential influx of healthy bodies, some young players currently up on emergency recall like Luke Adam, Johan Larsson, Nicolas Deslauriers could be sent back to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.
Nolan said that the work they do in the offseason will be just as important as their level of play now when it comes to how the team evaluates them.
“How you continue to grow is really important and how you finish off. Lasting impressions are very important,” Nolan said. “You want to make sure you leave a good lasting impression because you have all summer to think about it… The future bodes well, but they have to continue to do that on a regular basis.”
The Amerks are fighting to secure a playoff berth. They currently sit in seventh place in the Western Conference with six games remaining. Rochester rallied back from a 3-0 deficit on Saturday to beat the Toronto Marlies 4-3. Tim Schaller recorded a hat trick and Phil Varone scored the game-winner with 43 seconds left in regulation.
88 Cory Conacher – 63 Tyler Ennis – 23 Ville Leino
19 Cody Hodgson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 27 Matt D’Agostini
72 Luke Adam – 22 Johan Larsson – 44 Nicolas Deslauriers
32 John Scott – 65 Brian Flynn – 37 Matt Ellis
ST. LOUIS – The Buffalo Sabres are facing more injuries to their defensive corps and it looks like the situation will lead to Jake McCabe making his NHL debut Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues.
Sabres coach Ted Nolan declared all three as game-time decisions, but made it sound like Tallinder is the least likely of the three to play. With McCabe and Nicolas Deslauriers available and John Scott able to play both forward and defense, they should be able to field a full squad.
The Sabres announced Wednesday that McCabe, 20, had signed a three-year, entry-level contract and he joined the team for its three-game road trip that starts at 8 p.m. EST in St. Louis on Thursday.
“Yeah, I think I’ll have some nerves, that’s for sure. Even out in the pregame skate, I’m sure my heart rate was getting up there,” McCabe said after the morning skate. “This is a whole new level than anything obviously I’ve ever been to so it’s exciting. The guys have been great so far. I can’t wait to get out there tonight.”
McCabe, at 6-feet, 195 pounds, just wrapped up his junior season with the University of Wisconsin. He by registering a career-high 25 points (8+17) through 33 games and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors.
His point total was fifth-best for the Badgers, who captured the Big Ten conference tournament championship, and fourth-best among defensemen in the Big Ten. In 2013, he served as captain of Team USA at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, where the United States took home the gold medal.
“He’s going to be full of energy and full of enthusiasm, but especially against the first team he plays against, St. Louis Blues, they’re the cream of the crop of the National Hockey League right now,” Nolan said. “So he can’t be admiring his passes and he can’t be going back on a normal college speed. He has to jump right in with them with the best in the League.
Forgoing his senior season at Wisconsin was not one McCabe took lightly. He had discussions with both his family and the Badgers coaching staff, including coach Mike Eaves. All supported his decision to go pro.
“I think giving away that senior year was a big, big decision. I can’t talk enough about Coach Eaves and the coaching staff there,” he said. “It was an all-around awesome experience and I would suggest anyone to go the college route.”
Injuries to Tyler Myers and Alexander Sulzer have required Buffalo to field a young crop of defensemen on the blue line. Rookies Rasmus Ristolainen and Chad Ruhwedel are already up with the team on an emergency basis.
“There’s quite a few young guys up right now so it’s fun just talking to them, seeing how things work,” McCabe said. “The veteran guys have been great as well, kind of showing me the ropes. It’s been a welcoming experience so far.”
Buffalo’s schedule down the stretch isn’t an easy one. Following the game against St. Louis, they’ll face Detroit twice, Philadelphia, the Rangers, Boston and the Islanders to close out the season. McCabe said he checked out the schedule almost immediately.
“I looked there right way. The only way I’m looking at it is, it’s exciting to get my feet wet a little bit and see what it takes to play up here at this level and work my butt off over the summer to try to stay up at this level,” he said.
McCabe will wear No. 29.
Lieuwen earned his first career in a shootout against the Devils on Tuesday.
“He has to try to do the extraordinary thing again and that’s how you make a name for yourself,” Nolan said. “We’re putting a kid in a real tough situation, but we’ll see how he responds.”
The Sabres received an unexpected early-morning wakeup call on Thursday. At around 5:30 a.m., a tornado warning was issued for the St. Louis area. Everyone at the team’s hotel was then instructed to head down to the basement until the warning expired. By 6 a.m., everyone was back in their rooms.
“You usually get fire alarms at that time in the morning, never a tornado warning,” Nolan said. “It was something different but I think everybody went to bed, I hope half-decently.”
Chris Stewart made the trip and skated with the team for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury on March 6 against Tampa Bay. It was thought that he could miss the rest of the season, but he’s progressing ahead of schedule and there’s a chance he could see some game action before the season ends on April 13.
He said he’s been skating for the past five or six days and looks forward to pushing harder every day. What he didn’t realize was how much he missed being around his teammates.
“You get traded and then you get hurt and then they’re on a two-week road trip so you’re sitting there in Buffalo by yourself for a little bit,” he said. “You’re kind of down and this is the stuff you miss – just the locker room camaraderie and joking around with the boys and the chirps here and there and just having fun. It’s the little things that you miss and you don’t think about.”
He was also able to meet up with some old friends on the Blues. Kevin Shattenkirk invited Stewart over for dinner, but things didn’t go accordingly to plan.
“You can tell he’s a bachelor; He was out of propane five minutes into the barbecue,” Stewart said. “[So] he put it in the oven. He said that’s what they used to do in the college days so it must have been a [Boston University] thing.”
Nathan Lieuwen will be back between the pipes for the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday when they host the New Jersey Devils at First Niagara Center at 7 p.m.
It will be Lieuewen’s third career start and fifth appearance with Buffalo this season. He’s seeking his NHL victory and Sabres coach Ted Nolan would like to see him play with a little bit more of an edge.
“I think he needs to be a little bit more aggressive. He’s got the tactical aspect down, but the one thing we always say with forward, you want to see how competitive you are,” Nolan said after the team’s morning skate. “And it’s the same thing with goaltenders. You have to be competitive. You have to come out, you have to challenge. You have to get out like you want to stop the puck no matter where it’s at. We want to see a little more of that.”
Nicolas Deslauriers will not play. He missed practice on Monday because his wife gave birth to their daughter. He skated with the team on Tuesday, but Nolan decided to give him a little bit more rest.
“Nic’s a proud poppa and he didn’t have too much sleep the last day or so,” Nolan said. “So he’ll spend some time with his newborn and his wife and he’ll be back and ready to go tomorrow.”
Ville Leino, who missed Buffalo’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning while being treated for a migraine, will be ready to play.
After dropping a 6-1 decision in Nashville on Thursday, the Sabres put together a pretty strong effort against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday at home. Alternate captain Christian Ehrhoff thinks the team took Nolan’s message from that Predators game to heart.
“Obviously that was a game that all of us didn’t like and I think we bounced back pretty good,” he said. “Tonight it’s up to us to continue that effort.”
Rookie defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen logged a career-high 24:45 of ice time Saturday night. Ristolainen is currently on emergency recall from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League because Tyler Myers is out due to injury.
He played 19 games with the Sabres to start the season, but was sent down to Rochester in November.
“You see his maturity. Some people mature really quick but you don’t want to put them in a position too quickly, either. I thought maybe the start of the season was a little too quick for the guy.”
In that time, he’s logged big minutes with the Amerks and participated in the World Junior Championships, where he scored the gold medal-winning goal for Team Finland. Nolan thinks that Ristolainen has really benefited from that extra development.
“Those are the types of things that are really crucial to your development and playing in good environments and winning,” he said.
Nolan said he had a good chat with Ristolainen on Monday. The talk focused on some of the things the 19-year-old defenseman should focus on over the summer, including lots of work improving his strength and conditioning.
“If he gets a good summer under his belt, hopefully he’ll never see the minors again,” Nolan said.
Myers crashed into a goal post on March 25 in Montreal, a game after returning from missing time with an elbow injury.
Neuvirth made his last start on March 13 in Carolina and woke up unusually sore the next morning. He backed Enroth up on March 15, but has not dressed since.
Enroth was run into by Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher on March 16 and sustained a lower-body injury. Nolan said Enroth stepped onto the ice Tuesday morning, but is still “a long ways away.”
88 Cory Conacher – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
19 Cody Hodgson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
82 Marcus Foligno – 22 Johan Larsson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
32 John Scott – 37 Matt Ellis – 23 Ville Leino
The Buffalo Sabres should get a big boost to their lineup Saturday night with Zemgus Girgensons set to return from injury.
The rookie forward has missed the past 11 games. He is expected to center a line with Cody Hodgson on the left wing and Brian Flynn on the right against the Tampa Bay Lighting at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center.
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan is really looking forward to having Girgensons back on the ice.
“Zemgus, he’s a life changer. Even his demeanor on the ice, it just lifts up the whole team. Those are the special people, special players do for your team. Especially being so young, he’s only 20 years old so he adds that much already. So we’re looking forward to him.”
Girgensons hopes he’ll be able to shake any potential rust off right away and create some offensive opportunities.
“There’s been a lot of mix and matches with the lines. I think it’s good for the guys to see all the guys. It’s a good experience to play all the positions and stuff,” he said. “It’s just playing the game I play and helping them to create some offense for Cody and do the stuff I do.”
Moving Hodgson to the wing is part of an evaluation process that is being overseen by the Sabres front office, including general manager Tim Murray.
“Tim and I had some really good discussions on going forward with the team and some of the pieces that we have,” Nolan said. “Cody’s certainly one of those pieces and we want to see where he best fits with the team going forward. Maybe he’s a better wing. But then you also have to play him with the right people to get him the puck.
“Because once Cody has the puck, within a certain footage of that net, he has a good chance of putting it in. He’s not known for his great defense and we don’t want him to play great defense. We want him to score offensively but you have to be reliable defensively. One thing with the wing position, it’s not as complicated as playing center is.”
Nolan foresees Hodgson and Girgensons becoming a pretty formidable duo down the road. Hodgson is looking forward to playing on a line with both him and Flynn.
“There’s lots of room to improve everywhere. I’m still learning wing and learning center as well,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of speed playing with those two guys so let’s hope I can keep up.”
Matt Hackett is expected to start in goal for Buffalo. It will be his fourth start for the Sabres since he was called up on an emergency basis on March 17.
Ville Leino will miss the game after feeling lightheaded in the first period against the Nashville Predators on Thursday. He skated only two shifts in that game and has undergone more testing back in Buffalo.
“He got evaluated. He came to practice today. He was doing OK and then just before he went on the ice, he didn’t feel very well again,” Nolan said. “He’s going to get back to the doctors and see what exactly what’s going on. But he’s still not ready to go.”
Nolan said that it’s possible that they could shut Leino down for the rest of the season as a precautionary measure.
“When you talk about the head, it’s not like an elbow or a knee or something, but your head. So we’re going to be very, very cautious on this one,” he said.
The team will honor former goaltender Dominik Hasek before the game by inducting him into the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame. Hasek will become to 42 nd member of the Sabres Hall of Fame.
“The Dominator” appeared in 491 games for Buffalo from 1992-2001.
During his time with the Sabres, he won the Hart Trophy as the League’s Most Valuable Player twice (1997 and 1998) and the Vezina Trophy as the League’s most outstanding goaltender six time (1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2001).
He also was awarded the William M. Jennings Trophy as a part of a goaltending tandem that allowed the fewest goals in a season by playing at least 25 games (1993-94 with Grant Fuhr and in 2001) and the Lester B. Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsay Award) as the players’ choice for Most Valuable Player twice (1997 and 1998).
Hasek holds the five best single-season save percentage totals from the 1990s. In that decade, no other goaltender’s best season was as good as Hasek’s fifth-best in terms of save percentage.
His No. 39 will be raised to the rafters of First Niagara Center sometime next season.
Fans attending the game should be in their seats by 6:50 p.m. The ceremony will also be carried live on the Tops Sabres Game Night pregame show, which begins at 6:30 p.m. on MSG.
Nolan once again addressed his contract situation and the negotiations that have been ongoing.
“Like I said last week, Tim and I are real close on getting something done,” he said. “As I’ve mentioned all along, I’m very excited about the possibility of staying here and now it’s coming to a point where it’s really close. And I’m going to be really excited when we get it officially done.”
88 Cory Conacher – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
19 Cody Hodgson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
82 Marcus Foligno – 22 Johan Larsson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
32 John Scott – 37 Matt Ellis – 44 Nicolas Deslauriers
NASHVILLE – Rasmus Ristolainen is racking up some extensive frequent flyer miles.
The 19-year-old rookie defenseman was called up on an emergency basis on March 15 and was returned to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League on Monday.
Now, with Tyler Myers out again due to injury, Ristolainen was back on a plane this morning so he can play Thursday night when the Buffalo Sabres take on the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
“It’s been a long day. I woke up early, the plane boarded at 6 a.m., but it’s fun. I’m ready to play tonight,” Ristolainen said after the team’s optional morning skate. “I’m exciting. I don’t have very many NHL games yet and it’s really nice to play here with good guys and battle hard. ”
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said that Myers is day-to-day and hopes to have him back for the team’s game Saturday night at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Myers was tripped in the offensive zone in the third period on Tuesday in Montreal and slid hard into the goal post, knocking the net off its moorings. He took only three shifts after that play.
Torrey Mitchell will also miss the game due to injury. Rookie forward Johan Larsson was recalled to take his spot in the lineup. Matt Hackett will start in goal. Zenon Konopka will miss his second-straight game with a back injury.
Nolan said Mitchell’s injury could keep him out of the lineup a little longer than Myers’.
Marcus Foligno was back on the ice for the team’s optional skate after taking a maintenance day on Wednesday. He blocked a Brendan Gallagher slap shot from the point on Tuesday.
“It feels good,” Foligno said. “It was just a little bit of bone bruise there and obviously taking a pretty hard shot in the kneepad just felt tough to kind of put pressure on it yesterday, therapy and back at it today, I felt better.”
The Sabres are wrapping up an 11-day, five-game road trip that saw them play in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Montreal. Being the visiting team against Nashville might play into the team’s favor on Thursday.
The road team has won the last five games between the Sabres and the Predators. The home team hasn’t won since the Sabres won 8-4, on Feb. 27, 2008. The home team has only won three of the 16 games in the all-time series.
The Sabres haven’t lost a road game to the Predators since Nov. 29, 2003, having won their last three games in Nashville.
Buffalo has had to deal with both injuries and costly penalties the past few games. The Sabres will look to stay out of the box, especially with key penalty killers like Myers and Mitchell out of the lineup.
“We’re a beat-up team again, new faces again in this locker room. We need a simple road game here, get our confidence going,” defenseman Mike Weber said. “A gritty road win would be awesome. That’s what we need to focus in on here and head back home.”
82 Marcus Foligno – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
88 Cory Conacher – 19 Cody Hodgson – 23 Ville Leino
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 65 Brian Flynn – 27 Matt D’Agostini
32 John Scott – 22 Johan Larsson – 37 Matt Ellis
MONTREAL – The Buffalo Sabres will get one of their workhorses back on the blue line Tuesday night.
Tyler Myers has missed the past five games with arm injury but will be in the lineup against the Montreal Canadiens when the puck drops at 7:30 p.m. at Bell Centre.
The injury, which turned out to be a laceration on his elbow, kept him off the ice until just a few days ago. However, interim coach Ted Nolan won’t tighten up on the reins when it comes to limiting Myers’ ice time in his first game back.
“Stallions, just let them run. You’re not going to hold him back,” Nolan said after the team’s morning skate. “He’s a big man. He can skate. He reads the ice pretty well. So we’ll probably give him the first couple shifts short and then after that, let him go.”
Myers, at 6-foot-8 and 219 pounds, is big both in his stature and in the role he plays on the team. He averages 21:56 a game, second only to defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. Myers met the team in Montreal on Monday. He said he feels good and is ready to play again.
“Even though it was a little time off, I feel like I got it back pretty quick,” Myers said. “Whatever they have in store for me, I’ll just keep focusing on what I have to do and my role on the team.”
Myers said he had to wait for the infection to be completely healed so it wouldn’t flare up when he tried to skate. He was able to take the ice with some members of the coaching and training staff back in Buffalo.
With Myers back, the Sabres assigned rookie Rasmus Ristolainen to Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. Ristolainen had been up on an emergency recall.
Zenon Konopka will not play Tuesday night. He tweaked his back on the flight from Vancouver to Montreal on Monday, according to Nolan. He didn't particpate in the skate.
He’ll be replaced by Ville Leino in the lineup. Leino has been a healthy scratch the past two games.
While the Sabres are getting healthier on defense, the same can’t be said for their goaltending corps.
Michal Neuvirth has not played since March 13 when he made 51 saves in a 4-2 loss to Carolina. He said he woke up sore the next morning and while he served as the backup in the team’s next game, the Sabres recalled Nathan Lieuwen on an emergency recall.
Neuvirth has been traveling with the team on their current five-game road trip but that may not be the case moving forward. He did not skate on Tuesday.
When asked after the morning skate about Neuvirth’s status, Nolan didn’t sound too optimistic.
“Not too good. I think we may even send him back to Buffalo to get re-evaluated,” he said. “He’s not progressing as well as we thought.”
The Sabres are also without Jhonas Enroth, who sustained a lower-body injury on March 16.
Matt Hackett will start for the Sabres against Montreal. It will be his second regular-season game in a Buffalo uniform. He made 35 saves in a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.
The Sabres have gone 11-5-1 in their last 17 games against the Canadiens, but need a win Tuesday night to avoid losing five-straight games to Montreal for just the second time in franchise history. The first took place from Dec. 2, 1978 to Dec. 29, 1979.
Despite this streak, the Canadiens are looking for consecutive home wins against the Sabres for the first time since April 3 and Nov. 27, 2010.
The Sabres have 119 wins in 261 games against the Canadiens, tying their franchise-record win total against the Bruins, whom they have played 272 times.
82 Marcus Foligno – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
88 Cory Conacher – 19 Cody Hodgson – 17 Torrey Mitchell
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 65 Brian Flynn – 27 Matt D’Agostini
32 John Scott – 37 Matt Ellis – 23 Ville Leino
EDMONTON – Matt Hackett, please stand up! It’s your turn to take a ride on the Buffalo Sabres goaltending carousel!
Hackett will make his first NHL start in almost a year tonight as the Sabres attempt to bring an end to a seven-game losing streak against the Edmonton Oilers, winners of their last two games.
With injuries to Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth, Hackett was recalled Monday from Rochester on an emergency basis. He served as Nathan Lieuwen’s backup in Calgary on Tuesday, and will be the fourth different goaltender that Buffalo has used in the last five games when he hits the ice tonight.
Hackett will become the fifth goaltender to start for Buffalo this season, joining Enroth, Neuvirth, Lieuwen and Ryan Miller. Buffalo hasn’t used this many goalies in one season since 1995-96 – Dominik Hasek, Andrei Trefilov, Martin Biron, John Blue and Steve Shields.
In addition, Hackett will also become the 43rd player to see action for Buffalo this season, matching the franchise record for players used in a season set twice previous.
Hackett’s last NHL start was as a member of the Minnesota Wild on March 29, 2013, when he faced 33 shots in a 5-3 loss to Dallas.
Hackett enters tonight’s game with a career record of 3-7-0, all with the Wild. His last five NHL starts have resulted in losses. Hackett's last win was a relief appearance on March 8, 2012 against Phoenix when he took over for the injured Josh Harding in the second period, and stopped 17 of 19 shots in a 3-2 shootout victory.
It’ll be 356 days between NHL starts for Hackett, so he’s expecting to experience a few butterflies before the opening faceoff at Rexall Place.
“I haven’t played in the National Hockey league in a while, so there’s always some nerves. I’m confident going into tonight. I’ll just play my game and I’ll be fine.”
Hackett has been incredibly streaky in Rochester since the calendar flipped to 2014. He lost three straight to start the new year, then reeled off four consecutive wins. He’s currently in the midst of a five-game losing streak, having allowed 25 goals during this run.
“The past few games have been tough. But I’ve been working hard in practice trying to get my game back. I feel like I’m getting better.”
Sloppy play late in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss in Calgary has sent Ville Leino back to the press box. Zenon Konopka, scratched on Tuesday, will be inserted in Leino’s spot tonight and will play on the fourth line with John Scott and Matt Ellis.
Tyler Myers didn’t travel with the Sabres to start this road trip, and he won’t be leaving Buffalo anytime soon. There was some thought that Myers would join the team at some point during the trip, but Nolan said today that Myers will be out for at least another week. With Buffalo finishing the five-game road trip next Thursday in Nashville, that would put Myers’ return date to at least March 29 when the Sabres return home to face Tampa Bay.
The Sabres are just 8-21-3 all-time on the road against the Oilers, but come into tonight’s game having won their last three games in Edmonton. It’s been more than 10 years since Buffalo last lost in Edmonton - October 16, 2003.
TONIGHT’S PROJECTED LINES
Marcus Foligno – Tyler Ennis – Drew Stafford
Cory Conacher – Cody Hodgson – Torrey Mitchell
Nicolas Deslauriers – Brian Flynn – Matt D’Agostini
John Scott – Matt Ellis – Zenon Konopka
The 22-year-old Lieuwen will make his first NHL start tonight when Buffalo opens up a five-game road trip against the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome. With Michal Neuvirth still hobbled by a lower body injury, Matt Hackett will serve as Lieuwen’s backup after being recalled from Rochester on Monday.
Lieuwen stopped all 10 shots sent his way on Sunday in his NHL debut when he was called in to play 21:45 against Montreal, after being summoned earlier that morning on an emergency recall. The 6-foot-5 Lieuwen has a 17-11-2 record in 32 games for the Amerks this season, registering a .922 save% and 2.34 GAA.
A native of Abbotsford, BC, Lieuwen will be quite familiar with his Saddledome surroundings tonight. Lieuwen played his junior hockey with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice, and estimated that he played at least 30 games here over the course of his four-year junior career.
Nolan chatted with the always-smiling Lieuwen at the conclusion of today’s morning skate, simply reassuring the youngster that tonight’s game is just another step in his professional journey.
“I just talked to (Nathan) about how progression begins, and how it ends. He comes from a real good junior background, where you come in as a 17-year-old, and all of a sudden you’re leading them as a 19-year-old,” said Nolan. “It’s the same thing at this level. You go down to the American Hockey League, and then you come up to this level. It’s all part of the progression, and it’s just another hockey game.”
Neuvirth is on the road trip, but only had a brief stint on the ice today in his brand new Sabres goalie pads. Nolan was hesitant to say whether Neuvirth will be back for Thursday’s game in Edmonton.
“He feels a lot better today, and even hopped on the ice with us for a little while. But we’ll continue to monitor it for another 24 hours.”
Torrey Mitchell will return to the Buffalo lineup tonight after missing the last six games with a lower-body injury sustained on March 6 in Tampa, his first game with the team after being acquired from Minnesota at the trade deadline. With Mitchell coming back, Zenon Konopka will be Buffalo’s only healthy scratch.
Tyler Myers remains in Buffalo, and it’s uncertain whether he’ll be rejoining the team at any point over the next nine days.
Tonight’s game is the 99th all-time meeting between the Sabres and Flames. Buffalo is 48-34-16 against the Flames all-time, including an 18-20-11 mark in Calgary. Buffalo’s last win in Calgary was on October 18, 2003.
TONIGHT’S PROJECTED LINES
Cory Conacher – Tyler Ennis – Drew Stafford
Marcus Foligno – Brian Flynn – Cody Hodgson
Torrey Mitchell – Ville Leino – Matt D’Agostini
Nicolas Deslauriers – Matt Ellis – John Scott
Zenon Konopka (healthy scratch)