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Minnesota Wild

Josh Gorges looks dejected as Minnesota celebrates another goal Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – At this point, with the Sabres’ franchise-long losing streak at nine games and counting, it’s fair to wonder if the hapless team will win another game this season.

Seriously.

The Sabres are awful, a disaster by any standard.

In a season full of ugly, ugly defeats, the Sabres hit rock bottom in Thursday’s disastrous 7-0 loss to the reeling Minnesota Wild before 18,963 fans inside the First Niagara Center.

“I’m speechless,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said following the worst defeat in the …

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Thomas Vanek scored his eighth goal Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Call it hockey’s worst-kept secret.

Of course, Thomas Vanek couldn’t say anything as he bounced from team to team last season. But the former Sabres star confirmed the suspicions when free agency opened July 1, signing a three-year, $19.5 million contract with the Minnesota Wild.

Vanek, a Minnesota resident and Golden Gophers college hero, wanted to return home.

“Honestly, every time I went out somewhere and got recognized, that was one of the first things that people would ask me, ‘When …

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Tyler Myers will stand in front of the net tonight. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Right now, Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers said, the plan is “to disrupt as much as I can” in front of the net during power plays.

“I guess I’m used to being in that area defensively, but it’ll be different,” Myers said this morning inside the First Niagara Center. “Usually I’m trying to carry out the puck, and now I’ll be trying score. So it’s a different look.”

The Sabres’ NHL-worst power play can’t score, so coach Ted Nolan moved the …

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Matt Moulson (26) couldn't score on his breakaway Tuesday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The joke all season has been the Sabres have one first line and three fourth lines. Right now, even that’s a stretch. No one can score.

The Sabres have only scored nine goals during their eight-game losing streak. They have 76 goals all season entering tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild, a stunning 1.7 a game.

At that anemic pace, the Sabres would score 141 goals in 82 games, nine fewer than they had last season, when they set the …

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Jason Pomiville knows the Wild must start winning soon. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – A year ago, a meeting with the Sabres changed the Minnesota Wild’s season.

The Wild had lost six straight games before beating the hapless club 4-1 on Jan. 2 in Minnesota. The team then ran off three more victories, saving its season and perhaps coach Mike Yeo’s job. The Wild later advanced to the second round of the playoffs, giving Chicago a tough series.

Fast forward to today, and Minnesota, having lost six straight games, is reeling again. Pittsburgh thumped …

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Patrick Kaleta hasn't played an NHL game since Oct. 10, 2013. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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Buffalo Sabres winger Patrick Kaleta will make his season debut tonight against the Wild, coach Ted Nolan told reporters Wednesday in Minnesota.

Kaleta hasn’t played an NHL game since Oct. 10, 2013. The team’s old regime banished the agitator to the minors following a suspension early last season. He tore his ACL weeks later. Kaleta took a puck to the face during a Sept. 28 preseason game.

Meanwhile, defenseman Josh Gorges, who suffered a lower-body injury in Tuesday’s 6-1 loss in St. …

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Matt Moulson played less than one season with the Sabres. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Tim Murray said he began his first NHL trade deadline day as a general manager with no expectations, unsure which direction the rebuilding Sabres might go.

By the end Wednesday, Murray had made three notable deals, trading familiar names like Matt Moulson, Cody McCormick and Brayden McNabb while acquiring NHL talent and prospects. He also grabbed Canisius product Cory Conacher off waivers.

Murray, who sent franchise goalie Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott to St. Louis on Friday, called it …

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Matt Moulson played 44 games with the Sabres. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres have traded winger Matt Moulson and forward Cody McCormick to the Minnesota Wild for winger Torrey Mitchell and a draft pick, according to reports.

Moulson, a three-time 30-goal scorer, is an unrestricted free agent following the season. The 30-year-old’s a legitimate first-liner and a respected veteran presence.

Given the Sabres’ sorry state and his value, Moulson seemed like a goner immediately after his Oct. 27 arrival from the New York Islanders.

Moulson played decently with the Sabres, compiling 11 …

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Zenon Konopka has played 323 NHL games. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Zenon Konopka is joining the Sabres for more than his grittiness and faceoff prowess. In the 33-year-old center, they also possess a hardworking veteran the youngsters on the rebuilding team can learn from.

“Those type of guys are really good role models for the younger players,” interim coach Ted Nolan said Friday shortly after the Sabres plucked Konopka off waivers from the Minnesota Wild. “They last that long because they have that special ingredient to work and compete.”

The reeling …

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Zenon Konopka grew up close to Buffalo. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres have claimed gritty center Zenon Konopka off waivers from the Minnesota Wild, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Michael Russo.

The 33-year-old, a native of nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., is a rare mix of grit and skill, fighting regularly and annually ranking among the NHL’s faceoff leaders.

Konopka, 6-feet and 213 pounds, has 12 goals, 29 points, 1,049 penalty minutes and a minus-45 rating in 323 NHL games. He has one goal, two points and 55 penalty minutes in …

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