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Flynn

HarborCenter impressed Drew Stafford. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Instead of dressing at the First Niagara Center and busing to the Riverside Ice Rink or another local facility today, the Sabres simply put on their sandals or sneakers and walked across the street to HarborCenter, the new $170 million facility that opened earlier this fall.

Practicing outside the First Niagara Center is no longer a hassle. Naturally, the Sabres’ first session inside the sparkling facility had a huge “wow” factor.

“It’s beautiful,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said inside HarborCenter. …

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Matt Moulson beats Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner for the shootout winner Monday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – Monday’s exciting 5-4 come-from-behind shootout victory against the Ottawa Senators extended the Sabres’ winning streak to four games. That’s 10 triumphs in their last 13 games. The surging team has rallied from third-period deficits in five of its last six wins.

In one month, the Sabres have morphed from a hapless team destined to finish last again into a legitimate playoff contender.

“We got something special going,” said Sabres center Marcus Foligno, who scored for the third straight game.

No kidding.

Following …

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Chris Stewart has two goals in the last three games. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Forget about last place. How far can the surging Sabres climb up the NHL standings?

The once-hapless club has quickly morphed from an also-ran destined to become one of the NHL’s worst teams ever into a formidable outfit, winning five of the last six games.

Following a weekend sweep of the Montreal Canadiens, the Sabres are enjoying perhaps their best stretch in years entering tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning inside the First Niagara Center.

Hey, maybe these guys aren’t …

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Torrey Mitchell has three goals this season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – After watching Torrey Mitchell score the winning goal on a sore foot late in Saturday’s 2-1 win in Washington, Sabres coach Ted Nolan jokingly asked the center if he had heard of Toronto Maple Leafs legend Bobby Baun.

Mitchell’s outing, of course, wasn’t as gutsy or memorable as the time Baun scored an overtime winner in the Stanley Cup final on a broken leg 50 years ago.

Still, given the way Mitchell had hobbled off the ice minutes earlier, it …

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Brian Gionta had three points Tuesday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Outside the First Niagara Center, temperatures dipped into the low 20s and winds gusted up to 30 mph Tuesday. It was bone-chilling cold.

But there was very little snow on the ground downtown. The area immediately around the arena remained navigable all day. So did Buffalo’s Northtowns.

Just miles away, however, an early-season storm was annihilating the Southtowns.

Five feet fell in some areas. There was chaos everywhere. No one could budge.

Still, the Sabres played on, beating the San Jose Sharks …

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Brian Flynn steals the puck from Toronto goalie James Reimer on Saturday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – For one night at least, the First Niagara Center felt like the old days. A raucous capacity crowd of 19,070 fans roared from start to finish Saturday. The Sabres buzzed up and down the ice all night against the hated Toronto Maple Leafs, scoring goals and creating chance after chance.

The Sabres’ rollicking 6-2 win, just their second regulation triumph this season and first at home, was wildly entertaining, high-octane hockey.

Up in the Ted Darling Memorial Press Box, legendary …

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Drew Stafford has a team-high 10 points. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Drew Stafford figured what the heck, he had nothing to lose by offering his services at center. The Sabres winger had played the position in high school.

So Stafford recently told coach Ted Nolan he would move if the reeling Sabres wanted to experiment.

“I wanted to let him know I’m comfortable with whatever he throws at myself or whoever I end up with,” Stafford said Friday inside the First Niagara Center. “I want him to know I want to …

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Rasmus Ristolainen practices Monday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – When you’re struggling and searching for anything to ignite the team, you experiment. So with nothing to lose, Sabres coach Ted Nolan paired Rasmus Ristolainen, 20, and rookie Nikita Zadorov, 19, together last game.

The defensemen became the Sabres’ top tandem in Saturday’s ugly 6-1 loss to Pittsburgh, each skating more than 20 minutes, more than Tyler Myers. Zadorov wasn’t on the ice for any goals against.

“If you look at both of them, one’s more on the defensive side …

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Tyler Ennis has been a center for about a year. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Tyler Ennis is often the Sabres’ only offensive threat. So why did coach Ted Nolan switch the speedster from center to right wing beside Zemgus Girgensons and Matt Moulson today?

You try everything when you only have three wins and 18 goals in 16 games. Ennis has a team-high four goals.

“When you run into obstacles, you don’t stop and quit, and you got to find a way to get over around it or through it,” Nolan said this afternoon …

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Brian Flynn has played only four games this season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – In his first two seasons, the Sabres only scratched Brian Flynn three times. But the 26-year-old forward became a spare part in October, sitting out nine games, including five straight to close the month.

Now, Flynn’s making it difficult for Sabres coach Ted Nolan to take him out of the lineup. He opened the scoring in Sunday’s 3-2 shootout win against Detroit, his first goal in 25 games.

Nolan likes Flynn’s calm demeanor and versatility.

“I knew I had to try …

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