Evan Rodrigues tries to pry the puck from Washington goalie Philipp Grubauer last season. The Capitals visit Buffalo once next season. ©2018, Hickling Images

2018-19 Sabres schedule features early home stand, long January break

DALLAS – A season-opening four-game home stand, a 10-day January break and a Feb. 23 visit from superstar Alex Ovechkin and the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals are among the highlights of the 2018-19 Buffalo Sabres schedule the NHL released Thursday.

The Sabres open Oct. 4 against the Boston Bruins and stay at KeyBank Center until Oct. 11. Then they begin a season-long five-game road trip Oct. 13 in Arizona, also visiting Vegas, San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim.

Some other notable dates, stretches and nuggets:

– The Sabres’ bye week coincides with the NHL All-Star break, so after their Jan. 18 game in Vancouver, they don’t play again until Jan. 29 in Columbus.

– They have a season-long seven game home stand to open February.

– They have 16-back-to-back games, the same amount as last season.

– The Sabres have eight home afternoon games. Five of them fall on Saturdays. They played seven afternoon tilts last season.

– Superstar Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins visit Buffalo on March 1 and 14. The Sabres visit Pittsburgh on Nov. 19.

– The Sabres visit superstar Connor McDavid’s Oilers on Jan. 14 and host Edmonton on March 4.

– Former Sabres winger Evander Kane and the San Jose Sharks visit Buffalo on Nov. 27.

– The Vegas Golden Knights visit Buffalo on Oct. 8, a 3 p.m. Columbus Day start.

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The Sabres have seven picks in tonight’s NHL Draft at American Airlines Arena. After the first overall selection, they pick at 32, 94, 117, 125, 156 and 187.

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How’s this for an ownership group? Former Sabres coach Dan Bylsma, current Buffalo winger Zemgus Girgensons, Calgary Flames star Johnny Gaudreau and NHL executive Peter Luukko have purchased an equity stake in the Dubuque Fighting Saints, a junior United States Hockey League team.

Girgensons and Gaudreau played together with the Saints.

Bylsma, who was fired by the Sabres after the 2016-17 season, will join the Detroit Red Wings as an assistant coach soon, according to multiple reports.

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