Jeff Skinner tries to score on New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner on Tuesday. ©2019, Hickling Images

Timely goals, strong defense help Sabres down Islanders

BUFFALO – Suddenly, after weeks of regularly shirking their duties and allowing four or five goals a game, the Sabres have started clamping down defensively.

The results? Two wins over a three-game stretch while giving up just five goals. Following some downright awful defensive displays earlier in their seven-game home stand, the Sabres have finally started showcasing structure again.

Tuesday’s 3-1 victory against the New York Islanders doesn’t rank among their most exciting triumphs this ... Read the full article

Tage Thompson also sat out earlier in the season. ©2019, Janet Schultz

Sabres notes: Tage Thompson’s benching could be short

BUFFALO – This is probably only a temporary benching. Sabres coach Phil Housley plans to give winger Tage Thompson another opportunity soon.

But for the first time since Nov. 8 and the eighth time this season, Thompson, 21, sat out as a healthy scratch Thursday.

Center Johan Larsson replaced him for the Sabres’6-5 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Thompson, a big piece of the Ryan O’Reilly trade with the St. Louis Blues, had played ... Read the full article

Kyle Okposo (21) battles Columbus' Ryan Murray (27) and Sergei Bobrovsky last Tuesday. ©2019, Hickling Images

Reeling Sabres hope new lines, defense pairs can help ignite them

BUFFALO – Sooner or later, coach Phil Housley needed to make some significant changes, right? The Sabres have fallen from first overall to three points out of a playoff spot.

Having compiled an awful 8-14-4 mark in their last 26 games, their marathon slump has surpassed the two-month mark. In their last 10 outings, they’re a dreadful 3-7.

In recent games, the Sabres have often shown little interest in playing defense and struggled to score ... Read the full article

Drew Stafford often skates on the fourth line. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres notes: Drew Stafford reunited with Mike Grier; Scott Wilson waived

BUFFALO – Former Sabres winger Drew Stafford still remembers the first time he saw Mike Grier.

It was the mid-1990s, more than a decade before they became teammates with the Sabres for two seasons. Stafford would sometimes help his uncle, Barry, the Edmonton Oilers’ equipment manager, as a stick boy. Grier, meanwhile, was just beginning his 14-year NHL career as a winger.

“I was like, ‘This is the largest human being I’ve even seen ... Read the full article

Sam Reinhart skated this morning. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres’ Sam Reinhart game-time decision; Scott Wilson on waivers

BUFFALO – Tonight’s tilt will be lacking some star power and its two main attractions.

An upper-body injury will sideline Sabres captain Jack Eichel, who skated with his teammates again this morning, a third straight game.

“We’re just being cautious with that,” coach Phil Housley said after the Sabres prepared for the New Jersey Devils inside KeyBank Center.

Meanwhile, a lower-body ailment will shelve New Jersey winger Taylor Hall, the reigning Hart Trophy winner, ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel has missed two games. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres’ Jack Eichel practices, has no return date yet

BUFFALO – About halfway through this morning’s practice, Sabres captain Jack Eichel stepped out on the ice and joined his teammates.

While Eichel, who has missed two games with an upper-body injury, did not take any line rushes inside KeyBank Center, his presence is a good sign.

The Sabres’ No. 1 center and leading scorer skated a bit as an extra defenseman and also took some reps on the power play.

Coach Phil Housley said ... Read the full article

Zemgus Girgensons (28) battles Calgary's Mark Giordano last season. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres’ Zemgus Girgensons week-to-week; Lawrence Pilut to be scratched

BUFFALO – Sabres winger Zemgus Girgensons, a steady presence on the fourth line this season, is sidelined week-to-week with an upper-body injury, coach Phil Housley said.

Girgensons, 24, has formed a strong duo beside center Johan Larsson, giving the Sabres some valuable minutes.

“Zemgus has done a terrific job,” Housley said this morning inside KeyBank Center. “I think with Larsson and him together, they have a unique chemistry, and whoever we put down there ... Read the full article

Jason Pominville has missed three games. ©2018, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ Jason Pominville close to playing after hitting ‘Finnish wall’

BUFFALO – Of all the guys Sabres winger Jason Pominville could’ve collided with two weeks ago, it had to be 6-foot-4, 215-pound defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.

“(I) end up hitting pretty much a Finnish wall over there,” the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Pominville said following this afternoon’s practice inside HarborCenter. “So it’s a tough guy to hit if you’re going to pick one.”

Pominville has missed three straight games since his teammate accidentally steamrolled him during a line ... Read the full article

Linus Ullmark made 40 saves on Saturday. ©2018, Hickling Images

Linus Ullmark blanks Ducks, Sabres head into break on high note

BUFFALO – Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark could’ve been forgiven if it took him a little time to acclimate to his new role as a backup, perhaps the NHL’s toughest job.

No. 2 netminders often go a week or more without playing. When they finally start, they often receive the second of back-to-back games.

But Ullmark, 25, has transitioned nicely into his new gig, winning eight of his first 13 appearances subbing for No. 1 goalie ... Read the full article

Zemgus Girgensons made two huge plays Tuesday. ©2018, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ Zemgus Girgensons bounces back after getting scratched

BUFFALO – One play was a highlight-reel goal. Sabres winger Zemgus Girgensons didn’t just steal the puck and outmuscle any ordinary defenseman to score a first-period goal Tuesday; he made former Norris Trophy winner Drew Doughty look silly.

The other play, while not as memorable, was just as critical to the Sabres’ 4-3 overtime victory against the Los Angeles Kings. In the third period, Girgensons outraced Jeff Carter to negate an icing.

“It’s little details ... Read the full article