Trade deadline approaching

Jake McCabe played twice this week. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres sent defenseman Jake McCabe to the Rochester Americans this afternoon, meaning Nikita Zadorov will likely return from a two-game benching Thursday.

McCabe played twice during his first NHL recall this season. The Amerks host Syracuse tonight.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan sat Zadorov because the 19-year-old was late to a team meeting Sunday morning. The Sabres host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

Update: The NHL has fined Sabres goalie Michal Neuvirth $2,000 for diving/embellishment in Sunday’s 2-1 shootout loss to …

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Zemgus Girgensons has a team-high 15 goals this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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Zemgus Girgensons’ season could be in jeopardy.

The Buffalo Sabres’ top center left halfway through Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Blue Jackets after blocking James Wisniewski’s shot with his right ankle. Girgensons stayed down on the ice before being helped off.

“We’re concerned, for sure,” Nolan told reporters in Columbus. “We’ll cross our fingers and hope things work out.”

Meanwhile, winger Tyler Ennis, whose 15 goals are tied with Girgensons for the team lead, didn’t play in the third period because of “lower-body …

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Nikita Zadorov will likely sit out tonight. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Each time Nikita Zadorov violates a team rule, it’s important to remember the Sabres defenseman wasn’t drafted by Tim Murray. The gruff general manager isn’t tied to the Russian.

Sure, Zadorov, the 16th pick in 2013, is an elite prospect. At just 19 years old, he’s already a big contributor to the Sabres. Zadorov recently compiled seven points in seven games. The Sabres scored only 16 times in that stretch. He could be a franchise cornerstone very soon.

But Murray’s …

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Nikita Zadorov will likely sit another game. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – For the second time in less than a month, Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov stood up before his teammates and apologized for breaking a rule.

On Sunday morning, the Sabres benched the 19-year-old Russian for showing up to a meeting late.

“I just feel sorry this happened. … I couldn’t do that,” Zadorov said this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center. “It was my mistake, 100 percent, no excuses, couldn’t do that. I spoke with the team, I said, ‘I’m sorry, …

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Sabres goalie Michal Neuvirth watches the puck Sunday with Nashville's Michael Santorello close by. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – If the Sabres tab Michal Neuvirth as their No. 1 goalie and re-sign the 26-year-old Czech in the coming months, remember his 37-save performance in Sunday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators.

In his fifth straight start, Neuvirth dazzled again, keeping the Sabres in a contest in which they only five mustered five shots through 30 minutes and 17 in 65 minutes.

Neuvirth helped the NHL’s worst team nearly upset the league-leading Predators. Tyler Ennis scored his team-leading 15th …

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Jake McCabe made his NHL season debut Sunday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres coach Ted Nolan offered no details about Nikita Zadorov’s benching Sunday, only saying the defenseman was getting scratched for violating team rules, another episode in the 19-year-old’s turbulent rookie season.

“We had a number of discussions, and another thing happened this morning,” Nolan said prior to the Sabres’ 2-1 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators inside the First Niagara Center. “We’ll talk to him again.”

The Sabres needed Zadorov badly against the NHL’s best team. Three defensemen are ailing.

Josh …

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Nikita Zadorov was suspended last month. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov will be scratched for tonight’s game against the Nashville Predators for “team reasons,” coach Ted Nolan said this morning.

The 19-year-old Zadorov, whose maturity has been a problem all season, was suspended last month after his flight back to Buffalo following the NHL All-Star break was oversold.

“It’s just part of the growing process,” Nolan said inside the First Niagara Center. “We’ll just have to deal with him. He’s a 19-year-old. Sometimes you’re mature in certain …

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The Sabres introduced Evander Kane on Saturday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – For almost 13 minutes, Evander Kane smoothly answered questions about his turbulent past with the Winnipeg Jets and the future that could be special for the 23-year-old winger following his recent acquisition by the Sabres.

Wearing jeans, a Sabres hoody with his No. 9 and a sling around his surgically repaired left shoulder, an upbeat Kane sounded relieved to be out of Winnipeg, a city he calls a “fishbowl.”

“Let’s just put it this way, I think I’m definitely excited …

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Evander Kane talks to the media this afternoon. ©2015, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Evander Kane wouldn’t get into the details what happened earlier this month during his final days with the Winnipeg Jets. Still, the 23-year-old Sabres winger wanted to clear one thing up.

“Was I wearing a tracksuit? No,” Kane said this afternoon during his introductory news conference inside the First Niagara Center. “But it’s something (that) tends to get blown out of proportion, especially playing in a Canadian market.

“There’s been numerous things that have happened in the past that are …

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Matt Moulson beats New York Rangers goalie Mackenzie Skapski early Friday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – It was a gift the Sabres couldn’t exploit. Instead of starting backup goalie Cam Talbot, the New York Rangers used little-known rookie Mackenzie Skapski on Friday.

Who?

Skapski, 20, has been dressing for games as superstar goalie Henrik Lundqvist recovers from a neck injury. The 2013 sixth-round pick spent most of his first professional season playing in the AHL before getting recalled earlier this month. He even made one start in the ECHL.

Skapski’s NHL debut started ominously.

Before Skapski could settle …

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