Jeff Skinner tries to score on New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner on Tuesday. ©2019, Hickling Images

Timely goals, strong defense help Sabres down Islanders

BUFFALO – Suddenly, after weeks of regularly shirking their duties and allowing four or five goals a game, the Sabres have started clamping down defensively.

The results? Two wins over a three-game stretch while giving up just five goals. Following some downright awful defensive displays earlier in their seven-game home stand, the Sabres have finally started showcasing structure again.

Tuesday’s 3-1 victory against the New York Islanders doesn’t rank among their most exciting triumphs this ... Read the full article

Robin Lehner enjoyed a terrific season. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres notes: Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss forming dynamic tandem

BUFFALO – Before Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss morphed into the NHL’s best goaltending tandem, they struggled mightily a year ago, enduring rough seasons.

In 2017-18, Lehner, 27, battled personal problems while tending goal for the hapless Sabres, the league’s worst team. Meanwhile, Greiss, 33, played behind the New York Islanders’ porous defense, which allowed a league-high 293 goals.

But these days, the goalies are thriving, enjoying career-best campaigns for the upstart Islanders, who showcase ... Read the full article

Casey Mittelstadt left the ice early this morning. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres’ Casey Mittelstadt game-time decision for Islanders

BUFFALO – Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt suffered a “little bang” and is game-time decision for tonight’s tilt against the New York Islanders, coach Phil Housley said.

If Mittelstadt can’t play, another rookie, winger C.J. Smith, will move in. Mittelstadt left the ice a little early this morning.

Update: A lower-body injury will force Mittelstadt to miss tonight’s game.

Having compiled two goals and seven points over the last 10 games, Mittelstadt, 20, is enjoying ... Read the full article

Sabres coach Phil Housley called Jack Eichel a "force" Sunday afternoon. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres’ Jack Eichel earning more ice time than ever

BUFFALO – In his four-year NHL career, center Jack Eichel has never consistently earned more ice time than in the past three weeks. The Sabres’ most meaningful games in seven seasons have prominently featured their captain.

Other than Saturday afternoon’s 3-1 win, a game the Sabres controlled, allowing Phil Housley to rest Eichel a bit for Sunday’s tilt, the coach has utilized his leading scorer a lot. Eichel has skated at least 20 minutes, ... Read the full article

Jake MccCabe (15) battles the New York Islanders' Cal Clutterbuck on Monday. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres lose game to Islanders, Jack Eichel to injury

BUFFALO – Three straight losses. A rough stretch in which they’ve dropped 11 of 15 games. An anemic offense that has produced just five goals in the last eight contests.

The Sabres closed 2018 like the opened it, struggling to win games and score goals.

Did we mention captain Jack Eichel, the Sabres’ leading scorer, left Monday’s 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders nursing an upper-body injury after playing just 2:42?... Read the full article

Robin Lehner made his first visit to Buffalo with the New York Islanders on Monday. ©2019, Hickling Images

Former Sabres goalie Robin Lehner happy, healthy with Islanders

BUFFALO – Robin Lehner said he couldn’t put a feeling on being back. Sure, it was a little weird sitting in KeyBank Center’s visiting dressing room. The goalie spent three seasons with the Sabres, an experience he’s grateful for.

But Lehner, 27, said he doesn’t want to look back too much.

“I got an opportunity,” Lehner said Monday prior to his stellar 39-save effort in the New York Islanders’ 3-1 win against his old team, ... Read the full article

C.J. Smith played two NHL games late in 2016-17. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres notes: C.J. Smith earns recall from Amerks

BUFFALO – Late in the 2016-17 season, the Sabres rewarded C.J. Smith with two NHL games after the forward left UMass Lowell following his junior year.

Then Smith, 24, quietly began the next season in the AHL, where he morphed into a top scorer and an intriguing prospect with the Rochester Americans.

Still, the Sabres kept Smith in the AHL nearly a year and a half before finally summoning him prior to Monday’s 3-1 ... Read the full article

C.J. Smith was piling up points in Rochester. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres look to C.J. Smith for spark

BUFFALO – Late in the 2016-17 season, the Sabres rewarded C.J. Smith with two NHL games after the forward left UMass Lowell following his junior year to sign an entry-level contract.

And then, Smith, 24, quietly went to the Rochester Americans, where he morphed into a top scorer and an intriguing prospect.

Still, the Sabres kept Smith in the AHL nearly a season and a half before finally summoning him this morning.... Read the full article

Kyle Okposo hasn't scored a goal since Nov. 13. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres’ Kyle Okposo enduring career-worst slump

BUFFALO – Kyle Okposo’s offensive slump has become startling.

The Sabres winger has a career-long 21-game goal drought entering tonight’s home tilt against the New York Islanders, his old team. The former NHL All-Star hasn’t even mustered an assist in the last 14 contests, the longest pointless stretch of his 12-year career.

Following a strong start, Okposo stopped producing around mid-November.

Incredibly, Okposo, who usually skates on the second line and power-play unit, is ... Read the full article

Matt Tennyson played 20 games with the Sabres last season. ©2018, Hickling Images

Matt Tennyson, Lawrence Pilut battling for spot on Sabres’ defense

BUFFALO – One training camp earlier in his career, Sabres defenseman Matt Tennyson said he knew he was locked into the sixth spot on the San Jose Sharks’ blue line.

“Other than that, I’ve just been grinding away, just trying to make it,” Tennyson said Thursday inside KeyBank Center after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s preseason finale.

Tennyson, 28, is the typical journeymen defensemen. He usually ranks anywhere from sixth to 10th on the depth ... Read the full article