Nikita Zadorov's rookie season was rough at times. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres GM Tim Murray challenges Nikita Zadorov to grow up

BUFFALO – Tim Murray called his end-of-season meeting with 19-year-old Sabres rookie Nikita Zadorov, whose maturity was an issue all year, an “interview.” In reality, the general manager’s chat with the defenseman was probably more of a lecture.

“A big part of … our talk today was me putting the onus on him to grow, to get better to get fitter and become a man,” Murray said Sunday inside the First Niagara Center. “We’ll see ... Read the full article

Johan Larsson (22) battles Pittsburgh's Rob Scuderi on Saturday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Johan Larsson transformed game late in season

BUFFALO – Three months ago, when the Sabres seemingly banished Johan Larsson to the minors, the 22-year-old’s future here seemed iffy.

Upon arriving in Rochester, Larsson complained about playing on the fourth line with the Sabres, something that angered coach Ted Nolan, who basically told Larsson to shut his mouth.

At that point, Larsson had one goal and six points in 41 NHL games.

Larsson entered Saturday’s season finale against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a 2-0 ... Read the full article

Matt Ellis celebrates his first goal this season Wednesday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Rare Matt Ellis goal caps Sabres’ comeback win against hapless Leafs

BUFFALO – It was a pretty goal, the type that can bring fans out of their seats before the puck is even in the net. Basically, it was the kind of goal Sabres center Matt Ellis never scores.

In 351 NHL games, Ellis has only 21 goals. The likable veteran hadn’t scored in 33 appearances this season prior to his nifty highlight-reel winner Wednesday in the Sabres’ 4-3 come-from-behind victory against the hapless Toronto Maple ... Read the full article

Marcus Foligno was playing some of his best hockey ever in December. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Lots has gone wrong for Sabres in awful season

BUFFALO – Given the Sabres’ sorry state these days, it’s almost difficult to remember now. But for a brief stretch earlier this season, they morphed into a young team on the rise, winning a string of exciting games in dramatic fashion.

The rebuilding club triumphed 10 times in 13 games – they have only 20 victories in 75 outings all season – during a rollicking run in November and December, roaring back night after night.... Read the full article

Arizona goalie Mike Smith pokes the puck away from Tyler Ennis on Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Tyler Ennis enjoying special season

BUFFALO – Sometimes you focus so much on the future, Sabres coach Ted Nolan said, the present can easily be forgotten about.

When the rebuilding Sabres surround Tyler Ennis with better talent in the coming years, the slick winger could become one of the NHL’s elite talents.

But right now, the 25-year-old, who will likely miss tonight’s game with an upper-body injury, is a special player. The former first-round pick is often the Sabres’ only ... Read the full article

Nikita Zadorov (51) skates in on Philadelphia's R.J. Umberger earlier this year. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Ted Nolan unhappy with Sabres rookie Nikita Zadorov

BUFFALO – In Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes, Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov was benched, skating only nine minutes, 46 seconds.

“Maybe 10 minutes too much,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center.

Yikes!

Expect the 19-year-old rookie to be scratched Saturday in Colorado. Nolan has clearly grown tired of the Russian’s poor work habits.

“When you’re going for certain things, the expectations and what you have to ... Read the full article

Brian Gionta is stopped by New York Rangers goalie Mackenzie Skapski earlier this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres captain Brian Gionta on loss to Coyotes: ‘Our fans were cheering for us’

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 ... Read the full article

Matt Hackett has started three games this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres goalie Matt Hackett ready for start, must deal with soreness

BUFFALO – Almost a year later, Matt Hackett hasn’t fully recovered from his torn right ACL. The goalie still experiences soreness after games, so the Sabres want him to rest.

The 25-year-old performed strongly in Saturday’s 3-0 loss in Nashville, making 40 saves. But Sabres coach Ted Nolan started Anders Lindback on Monday in Dallas.

Hackett will likely start tonight’s contest against the Arizona Coyotes, his fourth nod this season.

“He fought through a long ... Read the full article

Sabres goalie Anders Lindback stops New Jersey's Stephen Gionta on Friday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres goalie Anders Lindback possesses elite puck-handling ability

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 ... Read the full article

Matt Hackett has played 14 AHL games this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres goalie Matt Hackett could get long look

Matt Hackett could be the Buffalo Sabres’ new starting goalie.

With a lower-body injury putting newcomer Chad Johnson’s season in doubt, the Sabres recalled Hackett from Rochester on Saturday and started him hours later against the Washington Capitals, his second NHL appearance this season.

Hackett must play eight NHL games or he will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Sabres need to evaluate goalies for next season, so he could receive a long ... Read the full article