Zemgus Girgensons, NHL All-Star

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Flynn

An upper-body injury sidelined Brian Gionta 13 games. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Instead of jetting to a tropical locale during the NHL All-Star break, Sabres coach Ted Nolan went home to Northern Ontario to relax a bit and clear his mind.

“Guys go to beaches,” Nolan said Monday afternoon, “I go to snow and shovel my deck off and enjoy the family and friends.”

The Sabres, losers of a franchise-record 11 straight games in regulation entering tonight’s tilt in Calgary, sorely needed some extended time away from hockey. So with their last …

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Ted Nolan knows the Sabres are too soft. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres have lost a franchise-record nine consecutive games and 31 of 45 this season. They rank 29th overall and dead last or close to the bottom in every major statistical category. They just lost 7-0 to a reeling Minnesota Wild team, their worst home defeat since 1977.

Of course, the Sabres were supposed to lose this season. But was the rebuilding club supposed to lose so badly this often? Opponents have outscored them 39-9 during their skid.

Very few …

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Rasmus Ristolainen has missed two games. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – While the top line remained intact, Sabres coach Ted Nolan rearranged his other three trios today, an attempt to jumpstart the struggling team.

The new lines, left to right: Brian Flynn beside Mikhail Grigorenko and Chris Stewart; Cody Hodgson with Cody McCormick and Drew Stafford; Nick Deslauriers beside Johan Larsson and Patrick Kaleta.

Injuries and illness have ravaged the Sabres recently. They haven’t had a second line with Marcus Foligno and Brian Gionta sidelined.

“If you looked at our last seven …

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Mikhail Grigorenko played his second NHL game this season Saturday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Mikhail Grigorenko knew the Sabres were short one forward and had the Colorado Avalanche, a team led by Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy, his former junior coach, coming up on the schedule.

Grigorenko, who played in Tuesday’s 5-1 loss in Winnipeg before going back to Rochester, wanted to get recalled again badly. To his relief, the Sabres summoned the Russian again Saturday morning.

“I was hoping I would get called up, especially that game against Colorado against Patrick,” Grigorenko …

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Canisius College players skate at HarborCenter recently. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Instead of dressing at the First Niagara Center and busing to the Riverside Ice Rink or another local facility Thursday, the Sabres simply put on their sandals or sneakers and walked across the street in their uniforms 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 …

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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
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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
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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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