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Montreal Canadiens

Evander Kane zooms in on a first-period breakaway. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – If Thursday’s dispirited 4-1 opening-night loss to the Montreal Canadiens turns out to be a harbinger for the 2016-17 season, well, the Sabres could be in for a long six months.

In addition to an ugly setback to their Atlantic Division rival, first-line winger Evander Kane was taken to the hospital after he slid on his back and crashed his left side hard into the end boards following contact from Alexei Emelin late in the second period.

Sabres coach Dan …

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Tim Murray smiles Thursday after signing a contract extension. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – In Ottawa, top pick Auston Matthews compiled the greatest debut in modern NHL history, scoring an eye-popping four goals for Toronto. In Edmonton, the slick Connor McDavid enjoyed a dynamic season opener, scoring two goals and three points.

Hours before Jack Eichel’s contemporaries began the 2016-17 season in grand fashion Wednesday, the young Sabres star sustained a high left ankle sprain late in practice.

Eichel, 19, watched Thursday’s 4-1 season-opening loss to the Montreal Canadiens in street clothes and a …

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Hudson Fasching played seven NHL games last season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Seven months removed from college, Sabres rookie Hudson Fasching has already grasped the complexities of the NHL that often overwhelm neophytes.

Fasching, 21, pays attention to the details of hockey.

That’s why Fasching, a strong prospect many had ticketed for the AHL early on, earned a spot in the Sabres’ opening-night lineup tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.

“That would be a big factor in it,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said this morning. “Every game he’s had he’s added solid play where …

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Jack Eichel will miss "weeks." ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – The scary high ankle sprain center Jack Eichel suffered when his left leg buckled Wednesday is “moderate,” coach Dan Bylsma said this morning.

Still, Bylsma said Eichel, 19, will be sidelined “more weeks than days at this point.” He didn’t give a firmer timeline.

Clearly, Eichel’s injury late in the final practice before tonight’s season opener against the Montreal Canadiens shocked the team. The young star, a popular teammate, is supposed to have a breakout season following a stellar 24-goal …

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Jack Eichel could miss a significant chunk of the season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – The loud thud center Jack Eichel made crashing to the ice broke through the din that accompanied the Sabres’ final preseason practice.

It was approaching 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, the eve of the season opener, and coach Dan Bylsma wanted another 10 minutes, maybe less, from his players before they showered and headed to the team’s annual kickoff luncheon.

Then, suddenly, Eichel’s left leg buckled after he lifted Zemgus Girgensons’ stick during a power play drill, and he fell awkwardly, suffering …

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Rasmus Ristolainen is the Sabres' top defenseman. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Rasmus Ristolainen said he trusted a new contract would be finished. Still, the Sabres defenseman wasn’t sure if his deal would be completed before tonight’s season opener.

“Thursday was coming pretty quick,” said Ristolainen, who signed a six-year, $32.4 million contract Tuesday, ending a brief holdout.

The Finn, 21, practiced Wednesday beside new partner Dmitry Kulikov as the Sabres prepared for the Montreal Canadiens inside KeyBank Center.

Ristolainen briefly left the Sabres earlier this week. He had been practicing as a …

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Captain Brian Gionta's Sabres open against Montreal. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres will open their 2016-17 home schedule Oct. 13 against the Montreal Canadiens, the NHL announced this afternoon.

What about the rest of the slate? Well, you have to wait for it. It’s coming at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Stay tuned for more details.

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Robin Lehner hits Montreal's Michael McCarron on Wednesday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Thirty minutes before the Sabres’ feisty 3-2 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, goalies Robin Lehner and Ben Scrivens chatted amicably at center ice during pregame warm-ups.

But by about 9 p.m., as chaos enveloped his crease at the end of a penalty-filled second period, the fiery Sabres goalie wanted to see Scrivens, someone he called “a good guy off the ice,” again.

Seconds after Montreal’s Michael McCarron punched Lehner after he grabbed him, he shot Scrivens a …

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Robin Lehner believes smaller equipment might help goalies. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Robin Lehner’s the NHL’s biggest goalie.

Sure, a few are taller than the Sabres’ new starter. Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, for example, is 6-foot-7 but weighs 31 fewer pounds than his former AHL teammate.

Lehner, of course, looks huge in his net. But so do a lot of other goalies much smaller than the Swede.

“There’s guys out there that weigh 160 pounds (who are) not that tall who look bigger than me, and … I’m …

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Ryan O'Reilly (90) stickhandles between Detroit's Alexey Marchenko (47) and Henrik Zetterberg (40) on Jan. 2. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Since a broken right foot has sidelined Ryan O’Reilly the last 11 games, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma wants to ease his No. 1 center and most versatile asset back into the lineup tonight after a 26-day absence.

So O’Reilly, who plays more than any NHL forward at 21 minutes, 51 seconds a game, might see a little less action against the Montreal Canadiens inside the First Niagara Center.

“I think you do ease him back in, without a question,” Sabres …

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