Brian Gionta scored his 288th NHL goal Monday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres reward captain Brian Gionta with win over Panthers

BUFFALO – In the days leading to Brian Gionta’s 1,000th NHL game, the Sabres were a little nervous, even “walking on eggshells,” coach Dan Bylsma said.

No one wanted to talk about their captain’s milestone.

“Didn’t want to jinx it, so to speak,” Bylsma said after Gionta fittingly scored the winning goal in the Monday’s 4-2 win against the Florida Panthers.

But the Sabres loosened up, and following an emotional pregame ceremony honoring Gionta’s ... Read the full article

Brian Gionta (left) receives a silver stick from Sabres general manager Tim Murray on Monday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres captain Brian Gionta honored for 1,000th game

BUFFALO – Sabres winger Tyler Ennis said undersized NHL players – a “brotherhood,” he called them – share “an unspoken bond.”

Small players, of course, have the odds stacked against them. Only they can truly understand what they endured to make the league.

Fifteen or 20 years ago, it was even tougher for them to crack the NHL. That’s why Ennis, who’s listed at 5-foot-9, grew up idolizing diminutive stars, including 5-foot-7 Sabres captain Brian ... Read the full article

Brian Gionta (12) isn't afraid to go to the net. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres captain Brian Gionta ready for 1,000th game

BUFFALO – As another trying season winds down, the Sabres finally have something special to celebrate. Captain Brian Gionta will play his 1,000th NHL game tonight, and his teammates couldn’t be more excited.

“That’s a huge, huge honor in this league, a huge milestone and accomplishment,” Sabres winger Marcus Foligno said. “A thousand games in the NHL is rare.”

Tonight is all about Gionta, the 38-year-old Greece native who has enjoyed a long and unlikely ... Read the full article

Nick Deslauriers has a two-game point streak. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Nick Deslauriers finally playing, contributing

BUFFALO – When Sabres coach Dan Bylsma charged Nick Deslauriers with creating some energy, the gritty winger’s first instinct, of course, was to fight.

But these days, those opportunities are scarce. Deslauriers has only fought four times this season. He certainly wasn’t going to find one enjoying a rare shift on the first line with the listless Sabres down three goals Saturday.

“I would’ve loved to get a fight there, but I don’t think ... Read the full article

Evander Kane (9) tries to stuff the puck past Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo on Saturday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres roar back from early deficit, beat Blue Jackets

BUFFALO – As if the season-killing streak the Sabres have recently endured wasn’t bad enough, it looked like they might hit rock bottom again Saturday.

Early on, the upstart Columbus Blue Jackets simply outclassed the Sabres, opening a 3-0 first-period lead.

Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson, so good at home this season, performed terribly for 20 minutes. Defenseman Jake McCabe, one of the steadiest Sabres all season, struggled through perhaps the worst period of ... Read the full article

Justin Bailey has played 19 straight games. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Justin Bailey has opportunity to stay

BUFFALO – Right now, thanks to his torrid goal-scoring run in the AHL and some injuries with the big club, Sabres winger Justin Bailey has the best opportunity of his young career to stick in the NHL for good.

For the last five weeks, the speedy Bailey, 21, has enjoyed regular duty, playing 19 straight games. Some contests the Williamsville native has skated on a top line.

“It’s a really big one,” Sabres coach Dan ... Read the full article

Marcus Foligno (82) contends for the puck with Tampa Bay's Vladislav Namestnikov on Saturday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres want to establish identity in final 15 games

BUFFALO – Technically, the Sabres are still alive in the playoff chase. Thanks to seven losses in eight games, it only seems like they’ve been eliminated.

But realistically, the seventh-place Sabres are finished. They must climb four teams and make up at least seven points to reach the final wild card spot.

The odds of that happening? Try 0.2 percent, according to sportclubstats.com.

Fifteen games are left, starting with tonight’s road tilt against the ... Read the full article

Marcus Foligno (left) and Josh Gorges celebrate Foligno's empty-net goal Thursday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres shake off threat, beat Coyotes

BUFFALO – Following Thursday’s 6-3 win, a contest tighter than the score might indicate, winger Evander Kane bluntly assessed the current edition of the Arizona Coyotes, a hapless outfit the Sabres lost to earlier this week.

“They’re not a very good hockey team,” said Kane, who scored the winning goal 14:24 into the third period. “Let’s be real here.”

Well, they were good enough to beat the Sabres five days ago.

Despite ranking 29th overall, ... Read the full article

Dmity Kulikov has struggled all season. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Dmitry Kulikov close to getting scratched

BUFFALO – In his first and probably only season here, defenseman Dmitry Kulikov has performed so poorly – the Russian has one goal, two points and a wretched minus-15 rating – the Sabres couldn’t even get a late-round pick for him before Wednesday’s trade deadline.

So for 19 more games, starting with tonight’s tilt against the Arizona Coyotes, the Sabres have Kulikov. Of course, that doesn’t mean coach Dan Bylsma will play him.

Kulikov, 26, ... Read the full article

Evander Kane skates today. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Trade deadline looms for Sabres

BUFFALO – Some trade deadline practice notes from KeyBank Center, where the media is gathered in the press room with a television tuned, of course, to TSN:

– Sporting some new lines, the Sabres practiced around 45 minutes today. Naturally, the looming deadline was felt a bit.

“A little of that lingers with an impending 3 o’clock deadline,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “But treat the situations and the players like they’re going to be ... Read the full article