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Girgensons

Snow has been falling around Buffalo constantly. ©2014, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – It was business as usual early Thursday inside the First Niagara Center. Following a day off, the Sabres practiced in anticipation of playing the New York Rangers tonight. Only snowed-in winger Patrick Kaleta, who’s stuck in Hamburg, was missing. Coach Ted Nolan discussed his lineup.

But miles away, Winter Storm Knife was battering Buffalo’s Southtowns again, pouring more snow on an area already devastated by one of the biggest storms in this area’s history.

At about 2:30 p.m., the NHL …

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Matt Moulson (26) and Zemgus Girgensons (28) are part of the Sabres' first line. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Finally, more than a month into the season, the Sabres’ feeble offense has busted loose, scoring nine goals in the last two outings, including a season-high six in Saturday’s annihilation of Toronto.

About time, right?

The NHL’s weakest attack scored 19 goals in the first 17 games, so the last two contests have accounted for 32 percent of the Sabres’ offense this season.

Incredible.

The Sabres are scoring at a shocking 120-goal pace. That would be 30 fewer goals than last season, …

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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Sidney Crosby dissects the Sabres on Saturday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – This one lasted one shift. Eighty-one seconds into the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 6-1 annihilation of the Sabres, Kris Letang converted Sidney Crosby’s slick pass, the first of the superstar’s five assists Saturday.

Game over.

The Penguins utterly destroyed the hapless Sabres before a capacity crowd of 19,070 fans inside the First Niagara Center.

The potent Penguins scored again before the Sabres recorded their first shot 13:21 into the lopsided contest. They led 3-0 after the first period, 6-1 after the second and …

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Brian Flynn has played only four games this season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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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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Zemgus Girgensons beats Jimmy Howard for the shootout winner on Sunday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – A few weeks ago, Jim Montgomery, Zemgus Girgensons’ junior coach, told me, “I know that he’s not the best in shootouts.”

Why isn’t Girgensons, whose two shootout goals have him in a five-way tie for the NHL lead, good in the one-on-one competition?

“He just comes straight down,” Montgomery said. “He’s always looking to deke his threat of a shot, and I told him that when I coached him, ‘You got to be a threat to shoot.’”

Montgomery said that Oct. …

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The Sabres' Chris Stewart scores his third-period goal Sunday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Slowly, Sabres coach Ted Nolan believes, his message is sinking in. Following Sunday’s unlikely 3-2 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings, he pointed out his Sabres are 2-2-1 in their last five games.

Of course, the Sabres lost those two contests by a combined score of 9-0.

Still, the 3-9-1 Sabres, arguably the NHL’s worst club, measure progress differently than most teams.

Against one of the league’s better teams, the Sabres hung tough, taking an early lead before tying it …

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