Ryan Miller slides across his crease to stop a shot by New Jersey’s Steve Sullivan on Sunday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres overcome crowd and Devils to win in shootout

BUFFALO – Not long ago, the Sabres might’ve wilted under the intense pressure, lost a game like Sunday’s 3-2 shootout win over the freefalling New Jersey Devils.

For at least 15 minutes – from late in the first period until midway through the game – the Devils hemmed the Sabres in their own zone, pumping chance after chance on goalie Ryan Miller as they sustained almost constant pressure.

It looked like the reeling Devils enjoyed ... Read the full article

Jochen Hecht has played 10 seasons with the Sabres. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres veteran Hecht thriving in reduced role

BUFFALO – Thirty-one days ago, it appeared Jochen Hecht’s long career here could be ending. In his fifth game as interim coach, Ron Rolston scratched the versatile forward, the first benching of his 10-season Sabres career. Rolston had already slashed the German’s minutes dramatically.

Hecht, a favorite of former coach Lindy Ruff, was seething.

But Rolston complimented Hecht’s play following the scratch, saying the German was only benched so the Sabres could add some toughness.... Read the full article

Jochen Hecht often shoots the puck from almost anywhere. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Hecht says penchant for odd-angle shots came from former Sabres star

BUFFALO – No angle is too awkward for Sabres forward Jochen Hecht. The veteran’s penchant for shooting the puck – or, perhaps more appropriately, sweeping it – from any spot deep in the offensive zone is legendary.

The 35-year-old scored a nifty goal in Friday’s 4-2 win over Ottawa, backhanding the puck quickly in the left circle with a defender draped on him. Other players surely would’ve passed that shot up.

Still, that wasn’t ... Read the full article

Luke Adam (right) celebrates his first-period goal Friday as Brian Flynn congratulates him. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres say playoffs still within sight after rallying to down Senators

BUFFALO – On Friday morning, hours before their 4-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators, new assistant captain Steve Ott promised the Sabres would keep fighting for that unlikely playoff berth until the bitter end.

Two days after management jettisoned captain Jason Pominville at the trade deadline with the message the Sabres’ plans have shifted to the future, players emphatically say they’re still focused on the present.

They want to win now.

Ten games ... Read the full article

Boston goalie Anton Khudobin makes a point-blank stop on Kevin Porter on Sunday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Bruins send Sabres to fourth straight loss

BUFFALO – In coach Ron Rolston’s mind, the Sabres’ 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Sunday “was probably one of our best games” since he took over the struggling club on an interim basis 40 days ago.

Never mind the Sabres’ fourth straight loss (0-2-2) dropped them to 13th place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind the eighth-place New York Rangers. Forget that Anton Khudobin, a relatively unknown backup goalie, only made ... Read the full article

Robyn Regehr acknowledged he has thought about his future with the trade deadline looming. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Struggling Sabres facing possible make-or-break weekend with trade deadline approaching

BUFFALO – A stone-faced Ryan Miller was in no mood to dissect his team’s season-long struggles. The 13th-place Sabres still have 14 games left in what has again become a forgettable year. Technically, they’re not finished yet. When and if the time comes, the goalie will breakdown what went wrong.

“We’re trying to figure it out and battle,” Miller said Friday after the Sabres prepared for the Washington Capitals inside the Northtown Center ... Read the full article

Drew Stafford battled Clarke MacArthur (16) in his last appearance Thursday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Slumping Stafford benched as Gerbe returns for Sabres

MONTREAL – In just 32 days on the job, interim coach Ron Rolston has quickly put his mark on the Buffalo Sabres, scratching five regular forwards.

Prior to Saturday, struggling winger Drew Stafford had escaped a benching, only receiving some fourth-line duty for his poor play. With a two-goal effort last Saturday and the shootout-tying score Thursday, it appeared the assistant captain would keep dressing.

But Stafford, who has only four goals and a ... Read the full article

Drew Stafford has struggled all season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Struggling Stafford to sit tonight as Gerbe returns for Sabres

MONTREAL – Naturally, getting benched for tonight’s game against the Canadiens is disappointing, Drew Stafford said. The struggling Buffalo Sabres winger, who has only four goals in 31 games this season, hasn’t been a healthy scratch in years.

But the 27-year-old veteran, an assistant captain, understands why interim coach Ron Rolston will sit him.

“I mean, it’s no secret I haven’t been getting on the score sheet,” Stafford said this afternoon following Buffalo’s skate ... Read the full article

Jochen Hecht was recently scratched. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Which Sabres forward would Rolston sit if Kaleta returns?

Considering the Buffalo Sabres have lost two straight, six of seven (1-3-3) and rank 14th in the Eastern Conference with only 10 wins and 24 points, this shouldn’t be hard, right?

So, assuming the Sabres put agitator Patrick Kaleta back in the lineup Tuesday in Montreal, which forward should Ron Rolston scratch?

The Sabres’ interim coach didn’t want to bench anyone Sunday in Washington when Kaleta was eligible to play following a five-game boarding ... Read the full article

Ville Leino struggled last season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Leino looking for chance to show his worth to Sabres

BUFFALO – Last season, in the first year of a six-year, $27 million contract, Ville Leino bombed. For a cool $6 million, the Sabres received eight goals and 25 points in 71 games, paying out $240,000 a point.

The Sabres initially tried converting Leino into a center again, an experiment that failed miserably. Leino was back on the wing after just a few weeks, generating little as a third- or fourth-liner.

Before the season ended, ... Read the full article