eight games left

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Weber

Brian Gionta believes Sabres fans cheered for the team Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Brian Gionta wouldn’t go there. The Sabres captain knows his words carry weight.

Gionta played almost 25 minutes in the Sabres’ 4-3 overtime loss Thursday, a game in which many hometown fans rooted for the Arizona Coyotes, creating a bizarre scene inside the First Niagara Center.

Surely, the veteran heard the loud cheering for the opposition.

“No, our fans were cheering for us,” Gionta insisted Friday after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s road tilt against the Colorado Avalanche. “We have great …

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Brian Gionta is stopped by New York Rangers goalie Mackenzie Skapski earlier this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Unlike his teammate Mike Weber, who ripped the hometown fans, Sabres captain Brian Gionta wouldn’t go there.

Gionta played almost 25 minutes in the Sabres’ 4-3 overtime loss Thursday, a game in which the hometown fans rooted for the Arizona Coyotes. Surely, the veteran heard the loud cheering inside the First Niagara Center.

“No, our fans were cheering for us,” Gionta insisted this afternoon. “We have great fans. We have a great city, passionate fans, and our fans were cheering …

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Sabres goalie Matt Hackett stops Arizona's Shane Doan on Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Mike Weber spoke passionately, like a man who felt jilted. The gritty defenseman had just experienced perhaps the oddest game of his career, the Sabres’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes.

The payoff, the prize for all the “suffering” for two seasons had been laid in front of Sabres fans Thursday, creating a bizarre scene inside the First Niagara Center that will likely never be repeated.

A loss to the 29th-ranked Coyotes essentially secured the NHL’s worst team the …

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Sabres goalie Anders Lindback stops New Jersey's Stephen Gionta on Friday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – In Europe, handling the puck is “not a big thing for the goalies,” Sabres newcomer Anders Lindback said.

The bigger rink allows them to sling it and almost act as a third defenseman. European ice surfaces don’t have those pesky trapezoids designed to keep goalies in their net, either.

Handling the puck on the smaller North American ice surface with restrictions is difficult for NHL goalies. Very few do it well.

The 6-foot-6 Lindback is one of the best.

The Swede has …

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Sabres goalie Anders Lindback gloves a shot Monday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – After getting throttled nine days earlier in Washington, the Sabres wanted another crack at the Capitals oh-so badly. The blowout loss left the rebuilding club bitter.

“It was a stinker last time we were in Washington,” winger Tyler Ennis said Monday following the Sabres’ entertaining and spirited 4-3 shootout loss. “They had their No. 1 unit out when it was 5-1, and they scored to make it 6-1 and celebrated pretty hard.”

The Sabres matched the Capitals for 65 minutes …

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The Sabres’ Zac Dalpe (20) is driven into New York Rangers goalie Mackenzie Skapski by Matt Hunwick (44) on Saturday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – These days, as the Sabres’ awful season mercifully winds down, their efforts have remained strong.

Sure, they’re badly outmatched every game. But tenacity and strong goaltending has leveled things out a bit, keeping them in some contests.

“We can’t ask for much more,” coach Ted Nolan said Saturday following the Sabres’ 2-0 loss to the New York Rangers, their sixth straight defeat.

Well, scoring a goal would help now and then.

They hung with the slick Rangers, dodging bullets all night against …

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Nick Deslauriers has fought seven times this year. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Off the ice, rookie Nick Deslauriers usually has a smile etched on his face. The affable Sabres winger can often be found joking and laughing with his teammates in the dressing room.

“He’s always got something to say, always joking around with the boys,” defenseman Mike Weber said Saturday prior to the Sabres’ 2-0 loss to the New York Rangers inside the First Niagara Center.

But on the ice, the 6-foot-1, 209-pound Deslauriers possesses a fearsome edge. Just 85 games …

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The Sabres acquired Zach Bogosian on Feb. 11. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Zach Bogosian slipped into town under the radar last month. High-scoring winger Evander Kane and ace defenseman Tyler Myers garnered most of the attention in the Sabres’ blockbuster trade with the Winnipeg Jets, allowing the defenseman, the No. 3 pick in 2008, to quietly adjust to his new team.

“It’s kind of how I like it,” Bogosian said Thursday following practice inside the First Niagara Center. “I wanted to come here and work hard, show my worth to the …

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Anders Lindback made 31 saves Wednesday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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TORONTO – Let’s start with some positives from the Buffalo Sabres’ 4-3 defeat to the Maple Leafs on Wednesday, a game in which they frittered away a late lead and lost in the shootout.

– For one of the few times all season, their No. 1 line performed like, well, a top trio. Center Johan Larsson and wingers Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis all scored three points, the first time three Sabres have compiled three points in a game since Jan. …

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Adam Clendening played his first NHL game in Buffalo on Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Adam Clendening’s first experience playing here about 12 years ago is still vivid. The Wheatfield native remembers gazing around and soaking up the atmosphere during a Buffalo Regals youth hockey game hours before the Sabres hit the ice.

“That was definitely pretty surreal,” Clendening said Thursday prior to the Vancouver Canucks’ 6-3 loss to the Sabres, his first NHL game at the First Niagara Center.

Clendening used to be the little kid on the glass watching his favorite players up …

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