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Minnesota Wild

Zenon Konopka has played 323 NHL games. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

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. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

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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Drew Staffords tries a wraparound Friday in Toronto. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

Winger Drew Stafford suffered an upper body injury early in Thursday’s wretched 4-1 loss to the Wild could be sidelined “a little while,” interim Buffalo Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.

“I’m not 100 percent sure,” Nolan told reporters in Minnesota. “But it’s not a day-to-day thing.”

That means the Sabres, who only had 12 healthy forwards, have to find add another one.

But where do they get one? They already recalled three recently.

Veterans Jamie Tardif and Michael Zigomanis (who only has an AHL …

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Jason Pominville (29) battles Henrik Tallinder last month. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
3

Warning! This might make you cringe, Buffalo Sabres fans.

Jason Pominville scored again in the Minnesota Wild’s 3-2 shootout win Saturday in Carolina, giving the former Sabres captain 11 goals in 18 games.

Nineteen games into the season, the hapless Sabres have 31 goals as a team. Their leading scorer, Cody Hodgson, has five goals and 13 points.

At his current pace, Pominville would score 50 goals. The 30-year-old winger tallied a career-high 34 times in 2006-07.

At their current pace, the Sabres would …

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The Sabres' Mikhail Grigorenko (blue) fights his ex-teammate, Minnesota's Jason Pominville, for the puck Monday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – In their seventh consecutive loss to open the season, a 2-1 setback to the Minnesota Wild on Monday, the hapless Sabres showcased some improvement before the 18,111 fans inside the First Niagara Center.

Yes, the defeat tied the franchise mark for worst-ever start. Yes, their feeble offense mustered only one goal again, raising their NHL-low total to seven.

But, hey, the Sabres, who began the night allowing a stunning 37 shots a contest, finally clamped down defensively, holding the Wild …

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Jason Pominville had never skated in the First Niagara Center as an opponent before Monday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Once the initial shock of getting traded to the Minnesota Wild in April began wearing off, former Sabres captain Jason Pominville said he “really took a step back” and began examining his new gig.

Pominville was leaving a team beginning a rebuilding process for the upstart Wild, a club constructed to win the Stanley Cup immediately.

The Wild had just signed stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to huge twin contracts. Many believed Pominville’s surprising acquisition could help transform the …

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Jason Pominville skates this morning. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Once the initial shock of getting traded to the Minnesota Wild in April began wearing off, former Sabres captain Jason Pominville said he “really took a step back” and began examining his situation.

Joining the Wild, a team built to win the Stanley Cup now, would be a terrific experience.

“For my career, it might be the best thing to go to somewhere where the teams are heading in completely different directions,” Pominville said this afternoon prior to his first-ever …

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Jason Pominville talks with some old friends this morning. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Defenseman Henrik Tallinder will return tonight against popular former Sabres captain Jason Pominville and the Minnesota Wild following a four-game absence.

With Tallinder (upper body) back from injured reserve, either rookie Rasmus Ristolainen or Alexander Sulzer, the spare defenders this morning, will be sent to Rochester, Sabres coach Ron Rolston said.

Update: Sulzer has been assigned to the AHL.

Meanwhile, backup goalie Jhonas Enroth will make his third start for the winless Sabres (0-5-1).

In other lineup news, defenseman Mike Weber, a …

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Jason Pominville played 578 games with the Sabres. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – They became the rebuilding Sabres around 4 p.m. on April 3.

In trading versatile captain Jason Pominville to the Minnesota Wild for draft picks and prospects that day, the Sabres signaled they had given up on the present and started looking to the future.

Six months later, with the former franchise cornerstone returning tonight to the First Niagara Center, the winless Sabres (0-5-1) are a mess, probably the NHL’s worst team.

Another loss and the feeble Sabres, who’ve scored only six …

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Matt Hackett played well during his three seasons in Houston. ©2013, PhotoGraphics Photography, AHL
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – Matt Hackett figured the Minnesota Wild would eventually trade a goaltending prospect. The team possessed two similar youngsters in the 23-year-old Hackett and Darcy Kuemper.

With Niklas Backstrom entrenched as the upstart Wild’s No. 1 goalie, there simply wasn’t room for everyone.

Still, when the Wild yanked him from the ice during the team’s morning skate Wednesday, Hackett “was pretty shocked,” he said.

“It just caught me off guard, I guess,” Hackett said by phone Monday.

The Wild had dealt Hackett to …

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