18 games left

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Ennis

Phil Varone skates Wednesday inside HarborCenter. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Prior to Phil Varone’s 19th NHL game Tuesday, the Sabres center couldn’t find his No. 84 written on the board with the team’s new line combinations.

The 24-year-old looked again and found it an unexpected spot.

“I didn’t see it at the top,” Varone said Wednesday following practice inside HarborCenter. “It was pretty surreal, obviously. I was in the AHL three weeks ago. It’s just pretty special.”

Yes, Varone, who has three goals and four points in his short career, is …

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Brian Flynn (65) battles for the puck witn Philadelphia's Ryan White earlier this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Less than three years ago, Brian Flynn was an undrafted and mostly unknown youngster at the University of Maine. The versatile forward’s signing with the Sabres barely registered with the fan base.

But Flynn quickly and quietly worked himself into a strong NHL prospect.

After less than a season in Rochester, Flynn debuted with the Sabres in 2012-13. The 26-year-old played regularly until they dealt him to the Montreal Canadiens on Monday for a fifth-round pick in 2016 hours before …

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Mark Pysyk played three games this week. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres sent defenseman Mark Pysyk to Rochester on Friday before leaving for this afternoon’s road game against the Florida Panthers, a move that raised a few eyebrows.

The 2010 first-round pick played three games during his recall, skating more than 18 minutes in the last two outings, both wins. He scored the winning goal in Tuesday’s 4-2 win in Columbus.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan has repeatedly said while the decision is out of his hands, he believes the 23-year-old …

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Jaromir Jagr (68) nearly scores on Sabres goalie Nathan Lieuwen last season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Count Ted Nolan as a fan of Jaromir Jagr, the legendary 43-year-old winger the Florida Panthers acquired from the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.

The ageless Jagr, who has 716 goals and 1,784 points in 1,530 games, should make his Panthers debut Saturday in Florida against the Sabres.

Nolan believes Jagr’s arrival could boost the Panthers’ playoff hopes.

“You see a guy like Jagr, growing up and watching him in his early days, he was by far one of my favorite …

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The Sabres' Torrey Mitchell splits the Vancouver defense Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Of course, the Sabres’ best stretch in two months could end soon. The trade deadline is three days away. The rebuilding club will almost certainly deal some of its top assets.

If Thursday’s 6-3 win against the Vancouver Canucks was the final game for a few players, they gave the Sabres one heck of a goodbye before a capacity crowd of 19,070 fans inside the First Niagara Center.

Consider the exploits of these players with expiring contracts in the Sabres’ …

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Adam Clendening played his first NHL game in Buffalo on Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Adam Clendening’s first experience playing here about 12 years ago is still vivid. The Wheatfield native remembers gazing around and soaking up the atmosphere during a Buffalo Regals youth hockey game hours before the Sabres hit the ice.

“That was definitely pretty surreal,” Clendening said Thursday prior to the Vancouver Canucks’ 6-3 loss to the Sabres, his first NHL game at the First Niagara Center.

Clendening used to be the little kid on the glass watching his favorite players up …

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Zemgus Girgensons blocked a shot Tuesday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Top Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons, who blocked a shot with his right ankle Tuesday, will play again this season, coach Ted Nolan said this morning.

Nolan hinted Girgensons could be finished after James Wisniewski’s shot hit the Latvian halfway through the 4-2 win in Columbus.

“It’s bad but not as bad as we thought,” Nolan said inside the First Niagara Center.

Nolan wouldn’t say if Girgensons’ ankle was broken.

“It could be, but it still could be healed in two weeks,” he …

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Alex Biega made his NHL debut Feb. 16. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Alex Biega had finally cracked an NHL roster. For 10 days in December, the defenseman earned a fatter paycheck and practiced with the Vancouver Canucks.

But, oddly enough, the 26-year-old former Sabres prospect never played. He got tantalizingly close to game action once, dressing for the pregame warm-up.

“It wasn’t frustrating, but I guess I was antsy just to get in,” Biega said by phone Wednesday after the Canucks landed in Buffalo. “I wanted to get that opportunity to play. …

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Zemgus Girgensons has a team-high 15 goals this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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Zemgus Girgensons’ season could be in jeopardy.

The Buffalo Sabres’ top center left halfway through Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Blue Jackets after blocking James Wisniewski’s shot with his right ankle. Girgensons stayed down on the ice before being helped off.

“We’re concerned, for sure,” Nolan told reporters in Columbus. “We’ll cross our fingers and hope things work out.”

Meanwhile, winger Tyler Ennis, whose 15 goals are tied with Girgensons for the team lead, didn’t play in the third period because of “lower-body …

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Sabres goalie Michal Neuvirth watches the puck Sunday with Nashville's Michael Santorello close by. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – If the Sabres tab Michal Neuvirth as their No. 1 goalie and re-sign the 26-year-old Czech in the coming months, remember his 37-save performance in Sunday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators.

In his fifth straight start, Neuvirth dazzled again, keeping the Sabres in a contest in which they only five mustered five shots through 30 minutes and 17 in 65 minutes.

Neuvirth helped the NHL’s worst team nearly upset the league-leading Predators. Tyler Ennis scored his team-leading 15th …

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