Rasmus Ristolainen has a phone hearing this afternoon. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Rasmus Ristolainen explains hit on Jake Guentzel

BUFFALO – When Rasmus Ristolainen leveled Jake Guentzel, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins rookie bloodied and concussed early in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss, the Sabres defenseman never expected to be ejected from the game.

Ristolainen, however, now understands why he was given a five-minute interference penalty.

“He obviously didn’t have the puck … he got injured,” Ristolainen said this afternoon following practice inside HarborCenter. “I don’t know what the rules are, but it was probably the ... Read the full article

Robin Lehner makes a save Tuesday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Rasmus Ristolainen ejected in Sabres’ loss to Penguins

BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen had a split-second decision to make as Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby dished the puck up to Jake Guentzel near their blue line early in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Penguins.

Ristolainen could lay back and play it safe, or he could assume the short pass would be completed and step up and throttle Guentzel.

The Finn went for the hit, but the pass was intercepted by teammate Zemgus Girgensons. ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel wants the Sabres to play more aggresively. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres blow lead, lose late to Penguins

PITTSBURGH – For one period Sunday, everything went right for the Buffalo Sabres.

They jumped out to a seemingly commanding lead, scoring three times by the 18:07 mark. The Penguins, meanwhile, couldn’t beat Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson, who stopped all 13 first-period shots. One Penguins goal was called back following a review. They also hit a post.

Still, a 3-0 advantage hardly felt commanding.

The reeling Sabres have a penchant for blowing late leads. The ... Read the full article

Justin Falk has provided depth. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Justin Falk replaces injured Dmitry Kulikov

PITTSBURGH – For more than two weeks, as Buffalo Sabres defenseman Justin Falk sat out seven straight games as a healthy scratch, the 28-year-old still felt some rare comfort.

Falk, of course, wanted to play badly. But the one-year contract extension the journeyman signed Feb. 6 softened the blow of leaving the lineup following more than three months of near-regular duty.

“It does definitely makes things a little bit easier when your out of the ... Read the full article

Sidney Crosby has 34 goals this season. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Dan Bylsma believes Sidney Crosby still NHL’s best

PITTSBURGH – For years, as Sidney Crosby kept producing Hall of Fame numbers despite battling a concussion that threatened to derail his career, Buffalo Sabres coach Dan Bylsma heard the same questions about the Penguins superstar.

“I got the question, ‘Is he playing as good as he ever has? Is he not playing as good as he ever has? Is he better now than he was two years ago?’” said Bylsma, who coached Crosby six ... Read the full article

Evan Rodrigues has played 15 NHL games. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Evan Rodrigues earning keep

BUFFALO – On a team featuring 11 veterans earning more than $3 million, Evan Rodrigues, a rookie 15 games into his NHL career, was arguably the Sabres’ best player during two wretched road losses last weekend.

Let that sink in.

“It’s a little disappointing Rodrigues is one of our best players,” Sabres general manager Tim Murray said Wednesday. “It’s great for him. But I’m not sure that’s what should’ve happened in those two games.”... Read the full article

Johan Larsson has thrived in a checking role. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Johan Larsson, aka ‘Grumpy Larry,’ frustrating opponents

BUFFALO – The scouting report on Johan Larsson, the tenacious center Sabres coach Dan Bylsma often charges with shadowing the opposition’s top forwards, is short and straightforward.

“He’s grumpy, miserable, hard guy to play against,” Bylsma said Tuesday after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s tilt against the Detroit Red Wings at KeyBank Center.

Wait, the quiet Larsson, an affable, well-liked teammate known as “Larry,” is grumpy? How often does that word appear in scouting ... Read the full article

Anders Nilsson makes a save in the second period on Saturday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson stars in shootout win over Penguins

BUFFALO – In just five games with the Sabres, goalie Anders Nilsson has already earned the kind of confidence from his coach that often takes years to develop.

Instead of using No. 1 goalie Robin Lehner against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Dan Bylsma tabbed Nilsson, his backup, to play against the defending Stanley Cup champions on Saturday inside KeyBank Center, a tilt the Sabres won 2-1 in a shootout.

The Swede has impressed this season, ... Read the full article

Anders Nilsson has looked impressive this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson to start against Penguins

BUFFALO – Toward the end of the morning skate, backup goalie Anders Nilsson, not Robin Lehner, started skating to the Sabres bench.

Would Sabres coach Dan Bylsma really start his backup against the Pittsburgh Penguins over Lehner, his starter who has played 13 of the first 17 games?

After fiddling with his sticks at the bench for a few moments – it almost seemed like Nilsson was teasing everyone trying to see if he ... Read the full article

Josh Gorges (4) battles with Pittsburgh's Scott Wilson on Feb. 21. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Josh Gorges takes pride in facing opposition’s best

BUFFALO – About 20 times tonight, Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges will jump over the boards to take on arguably the toughest task in hockey, trying to stop Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby.

Gorges will probably spend around 20 minutes defending Crosby and his linemates, a stiff challenge the 12-year veteran embraces.

To Gorges, the dynamic Crosby is the NHL’s best player, someone to measure yourself against.

“He just does things no one else can do,” ... Read the full article