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Evander hasn't scored this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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OTTAWA – Five years ago, Buffalo Sabres winger Evander Kane enjoyed the best start of his eight-year career, scoring 18 times in his first 36 games for the Winnipeg Jets, a torrid 41-goal pace over a full season.

Then, in the midst of his career year, Kane suddenly endured an 11-game goal drought.

“Maybe I could’ve scored 40 if I didn’t have that slump,” Kane said to Tuesday prior to recording an assist in the Sabres’ 5-4 win against the Senators inside …

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Jack Eichel still feels his injury. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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OTTAWA – The 21-game wait is over. Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, sidelined by a high left ankle sprain for almost seven weeks, will make his season debut tonight against the Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre.

Eichel can still feel the injury he sustained late in practice Oct. 12, the eve of the season opener. Still, it doesn’t restrict the second-year star.

“You can notice it at all times, to be honest,” Eichel told a hoard of reporters following the team’s …

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Cal O'Reill skates Saturday in his first NHL game this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Some heads turned when the Sabres awarded center Cal O’Reilly, a talented minor leaguer almost four years removed from his last NHL game, a two-year, $1.4 million contract in 2015.

But O’Reilly, the AHL’s leading scorer, has morphed into a valuable asset for the organization, captaining the Rochester Americans and providing depth for the Sabres.

O’Reilly, 30, proved that Saturday just hours after earning a recall, scoring the shootout winner in the Sabres’ 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a …

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Anders Nilsson has looked impressive this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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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 would leave first – he eventually left the …

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Robin Lehner made 32 saves Saturday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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OTTAWA – Buffalo Sabres goalie Robin Lehner, coach Dan Bylsma said recently, gets a twinkle in his eye whenever he plays the Senators.

Lehner, 25, clearly relishes beating his old team, which traded him to keep Saturday’s counterpart, Craig Anderson, who’s 10 years older.

“Absolutely I can tell that,” a grinning Bylsma said following the Sabres’ 2-1 comeback win, a game in which Lehner starred, stopping 32 shots.

The Swede dazzled strong throughout his fourth straight start, allowing the Sabres to roar back …

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Sabres goalie Robin Lehner stops Toronto's Leo Komarov on Thursday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – With just under 12 minutes left and Toronto clinging to a one-goal lead, the Sabres, as they consistently did throughout Thursday’s 2-1 loss, pumped a string of shots on Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen in close.

After Andersen denied Sam Reinhart, Tyler Ennis backhanded a shot on net, grabbed his own rebound and released a quick wrist shot through traffic from the slot.

When Andersen’s quick left glove hand snared the puck, Ennis, who rarely showcases much emotion, looked up …

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Sam Reinhart smiles after scoring Saturday afternoon. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – As the seven-game mark approached, Sabres forward Sam Reinhart figured after all his missed opportunities, his first goal would be fluky.

“The way the year has been going, that’s the way the first one had to go in, because the chances have been there,” Reinhart said after scoring a power-play goal late in Saturday afternoon’s 3-0 win against the Florida Panthers inside KeyBank Center.

Sure enough, 8:48 into the third period, Reinhart tried to find Kyle Okposo from behind the …

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Sam Reinhart thrived as a winger last season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – It was only a matter of time before Sam Reinhart switched positions.

With center Jack Eichel injured, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma loaded up his top line early, keeping Reinhart at right wing, this time beside Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo.

Reinhart, however, produced only two assists in four games. The 1-2-1 Sabres, meanwhile, have just 11 goals as a team, six of them in one outing.

They clearly miss the talented Eichel, who’s recovering from a high left ankle sprain.

So Bylsma …

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Matt Moulson revamped his approach last season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The genesis of Sabres winger Matt Moulson’s revival began in the wintertime, long before he started a productive summer of training in which he reshaped his body, helping him add some much-needed speed.

Eight or nine months ago, at the behest of management, Moulson changed his work habits as he struggled through an awful eight-goal season.

When the Sabres challenged Moulson, they hoped he would reap benefits this season. So far, he resembles his old self, the underrated star who …

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Casey Nelson was recalled this morning. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Some quick update from KeyBank Center, where the Sabres practiced for about an hour today after returning home from Vancouver early Friday morning:

– The Sabres recalled winger Hudson Fasching and defenseman Casey Nelson from the Rochester Americans this morning.

The rookies, who practiced today, played two weekend games, their first-ever AHL appearances. Both scored Friday. Nelson has been scratched the last three NHL games; Fasching has sat the last two.

“I felt like I got a little more confidence back, …

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