Evander Kane (9) battles Chicago's Duncan Keith on Sunday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres fall to Blackhawks, still begin bye feeling good

BUFFALO – It’s funny what a short three-game winning streak and few strong weeks can do for an NHL team.

After being given up for dead earlier this month, the Sabres have roared back into the playoff race, inching to within two points of the Atlantic Division’s final playoff spot and the wild card by Sunday afternoon.

Sure, clubs with games in hand stand between the Sabres and those coveted spots. Still, they’re back in ... Read the full article

Josh Gorges believes the Sabres have enough talent to make the playoffs. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres know style they must showcase

BUFFALO – To witness the Sabres’ blueprint for success, go back to the first 20 minutes of Saturday’s 3-1 win in Toronto, a period in which they jumped out to a 3-0 lead by playing fast and hard against the Maple Leafs.

“If you look at the first period in Toronto, we didn’t do anything special,” Sabres goalie Robin Lehner said Monday inside KeyBank Center.

The Sabres dictated the pace by pouncing on loose pucks. ... Read the full article

Tonight will be Evan Rodrigues' fifth NHL game. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres recall Evan Rodrigues again; Cody Franson out 2-3 weeks

TORONTO – This afternoon, hours before his fifth NHL game, Buffalo Sabres rookie Evan Rodrigues couldn’t stop smiling.

“He’s always all smiles,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said inside the Air Canada Centre.

True, Rodrigues, 23, always seems to be grinning. But tonight’s tilt, which will be broadcast across Canada on “Hockey Night in Canada,” is extra special for Rodrigues, who grew up a Maple Leafs fan in Etobicoke, about 20 minutes from Toronto.

“It’s going ... Read the full article

Josh Gorges had a hard time sitting out. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres notes: Josh Gorges returns; Nick Deslauriers stays at center

BUFFALO – The badgering has finally stopped. Josh Gorges is healthy, back playing after a hip injury cost him 12 games. So Sabres coach Dan Bylsma can walk by the defenseman again without getting an earful.

“Josh has been one miserable guy to be around,” Bylsma said Saturday morning. “I don’t walk by him without him saying he’s ready to play, and that was about 15 days ago.”

Gorges, 32, played in Saturday’s 4-0 win ... Read the full article

Josh Gorges has been battling an odd hip problem. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Josh Gorges finally healthy

BUFFALO – The badgering has finally stopped. Josh Gorges is healthy, ready to return from a hip injury that cost him the last 12 games. So Sabres coach Dan Bylsma can walk by the defenseman again without getting an earful.

“Josh has been one miserable guy to be around,” Bylsma, who has called Gorges “crusty,” said this morning inside KeyBank Center. “I don’t walk by him without him saying he’s ready to play, and thawas ... Read the full article

Jake McCabe (29) missed five games. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Josh Gorges, Jake McCabe set to return; Justin Bailey recalled

BUFFALO – For weeks, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said, defenseman Josh Gorges “has been one miserable guy to be around.”

“I don’t walk by him without him saying he’s ready to play, and that was about 15 days ago,” Bylsma said this morning inside KeyBank Center.

Gorges, out the last 12 games with a hip injury, can finally stop badgering Bylsma. He will return tonight against the Ottawa Senators. So will defenseman Jake McCabe, ... Read the full article

Justin Falk has bounced around the NHL for years. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Justin Falk grateful for time with Sabres

BUFFALO – On Wednesday, after almost three months of commuting back and forth to Rochester, Sabres defenseman Justin Falk moved his family into an extended-stay hotel here.

For Falk, who has shuttled between the NHL and minors for years, having his wife and two children close by, of course, offers some comfort.

“That helps … just to have a little sense of feeling at home,” said Falk, who said he sometimes made the 75-mile drive ... Read the full article

Anders Nilsson tries to stop the New York Rangers' Chris Kreider on Dec. 1. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres feeling comfortable at home

BUFFALO – Very quietly, after years of ineptitude on home ice, the Sabres have recently morphed into a strong team at KeyBank Center, winning four straight games.

Of course, four consecutive home victories isn’t overly impressive. But for the Sabres, who haven’t finished above .500 at home since 2012-13, the streak represents progress.

It also gives them some hope. With each loss, their slim playoff chances decrease. But tonight’s tilt against the New York Rangers ... Read the full article

Tyler Ennis (63) tries to check Montreal's Alexander Radulov on Tuesday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres have chance to rebound at home

BUFFALO – Flush it. Forget about it. Just get rid of it.

“Obviously, last night’s game we have to throw out the window because it was horrendous,” winger Marcus Foligno said about Tuesday’s wretched 5-2 road loss to the Montreal Canadiens, arguably the Sabres’ worst setback all season.

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma added: “We got beat badly.”

No kidding. The Canadiens led 5-0 before the Sabres scored two late goals. The game, by any measure, ... Read the full article

Sam Reinhart (23) battles Dallas' Jiri Hudler on Jan. 16. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres emerge from break focused on playoffs

In eight years in the NHL, Buffalo Sabres winger Evander Kane said he has never seen the standings so crunched barely halfway through the season.

Following the three-day NHL All-Star break, the Sabres start the stretch run tonight at the Montreal Canadiens in seventh place, tied with the Detroit Red Wings for the fewest points in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

Still, with 49 points through 48 games, the Sabres, who have three contests ... Read the full article