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Lindy Ruff's Dallas Stars visit the Sabres on Oct. 28. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ 2013-14 schedule features familiar faces, fewer back-to-backs

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Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald

BUFFALO – Sabres fans won’t have to wait long to see some familiar faces back at the First Niagara Center in different colors next season.

An Oct. 14 game against former Sabres captain Jason Pominville and the Minnesota Wild and an Oct. 28 contest versus ex-coach Lindy Ruff and the Dallas Stars are among the highlights of the 82-game schedule the NHL released Friday.

The Sabres open their 43rd season Oct. 2 in Detroit on NBC Sports Network against the Red Wings, their new rival in the revamped and renamed Atlantic Division. The Sabres start their home slate Oct. 4 against the Ottawa Senators.

The Sabres play 15 games in 31 days in October, their busiest month.

Back-to-back games, a staple of past schedules, have dwindled to a franchise-low 13 in 2013-14. The Sabres led the NHL in back-to-back sets in 2010-11 and 2011-12 and have played the most in the league since 2005-06, according to the team. They’ve averaged 20 per season in their history.

Before the lockout forced the NHL to cancel three months and play a 48-game conference-only slate last season, the Sabres had 11 back-to-back sets scheduled. The team said then it requested the change to increase recovery time between games.

Fewer back-to-backs means the Sabres have only four Friday home games in 2013-14 after averaging 12 in the previous seven full seasons.

With the NHL’s new realigned, four-division format – the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning are also joining the Sabres’ old Northeast Division foes in the Atlantic – the schedule breaks down as follows: 30 games against divisional opponents (five against two teams and four against five clubs); 24 contests against non-divisional Eastern Conference opponents (three games versus each team); 28 games against Western Conference teams (two contests against each club).

They play their last game on Feb. 6 in Ottawa before the NHL begins a 17-day Sochi Olympic break. They resume the schedule at home Feb. 26 against the Boston Bruins.

The Sabres have five three-game home stands, the first coming Oct. 12-23. They go on a season-long five-game road trip from March 18-27. They play five of their last seven games and 15 of the final 22 on the road.

Seven games, including four home tilts – Nov. 24, Dec. 14, Dec. 29 and April 13 – are matinees.

Other notable games on the schedule, which the NHL delayed in announcing so it could finish its Olympic agreement:

– The Sabres play Oct. 12 in Chicago against South Buffalo’s Patrick Kane and the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. Chicago plays here March 9, its first visit since Oct. 11, 2010.

– Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins make their lone trip to Buffalo on Feb. 5. The Sabres visit Pittsburgh on Oct. 5 and January 27.

– The Colorado Avalanche and No. 1 overall pick Nathan Mackinnon visit Oct. 19.

– The Sabres visit the 2012 champs Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 7. The Kings and former Sabres defenseman Robyn Regehr play here Nov. 12.

– The St. Louis Blues and ex-Sabres center Derek Roy and defenseman Jordan Leopold visit Nov. 19.

– The Sabres play March 3 in Dallas.

The full 2013-14 schedule:

Wednesday October 2 @ Detroit 8:00 p.m.
Friday October 4 OTTAWA 7:00 p.m.
Saturday October 5 @ Pittsburgh 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday October 8 TAMPA BAY 7:30 p.m.
Thursday October 10 COLUMBUS 7:00 p.m.
Saturday October 12 @ Chicago 7:00 p.m.
Monday October 14 MINNESOTA 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday October 15 @ NY Islanders 7:00 p.m.
Thursday October 17 VANCOUVER 7:00 p.m.
Saturday October 19 COLORADO 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday October 23 BOSTON 8:00 p.m.
Friday October 25 @ Florida 7:30 p.m.
Saturday October 26 @Tampa Bay 7:00 p.m.
Monday October 28 DALLAS 7:00 p.m.
Thursday October 31 @ NY Rangers 7:00 p.m.
Saturday November 2 ANAHEIM 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday November 5 @ San Jose 10:30 p.m.
Thursday November 7 @ Los Angeles 10:30 p.m.
Friday November 8 @ Anaheim 10:00 p.m.
Tuesday November 12 LOS ANGELES 7:00 p.m.
Friday November 15 TORONTO 7:00 p.m.
Saturday November 16 @ Toronto 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday November 19 ST. LOUIS 7:00 p.m.
Thursday November 21 @ Philadelphia 7:00 p.m.
Sunday November 24 DETROIT 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday November 27 MONTREAL 7:00 p.m.
Friday November 29 TORONTO 7:30 p.m.
Saturday November 30 @ New Jersey 7:00 p.m.
Thursday December 5 NY RANGERS 7:00 p.m.
Saturday December 7 @ Montreal 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday December 10 OTTAWA 7:00 p.m.
Thursday December 12 @ Ottawa 7:30 p.m.
Saturday December 14 CALGARY 2:00 p.m.
Tuesday December 17 WINNIPEG 7:00 p.m.
Thursday December 19 BOSTON 7:00 p.m.
Saturday December 21 @ Boston 7:00 p.m.
Monday December 23 PHOENIX 7:00 p.m.
Friday December 27 @ Toronto 7:00 p.m.
Sunday December 29 WASHINGTON 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday December 31 @ Winnipeg 7:00 p.m.
Thursday January 2 @ Minnesota 8:00 p.m.
Saturday January 4 NEW JERSEY 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday January 7 CAROLINA 7:00 p.m.
Thursday January 9 FLORIDA 7:00 p.m.
Sunday January 12 @ Washington 3:00 p.m.
Tuesday January 14 PHILADELPHIA 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday January 15 @ Toronto 7:30 p.m.
Saturday January 18 COLUMBUS 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday January 21 FLORIDA 7:00 p.m.
Thursday January 23 CAROLINA 7:00 p.m.
Saturday January 25 @ Columbus 7:00 p.m.
Monday January 27 @ Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday January 28 WASHINGTON 7:30 p.m.
Thursday January 30 @ Phoenix 9:00 p.m.
Saturday February 1 @ Colorado 3:00 p.m.
Monday February 3 EDMONTON 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday February 5 PITTSBURGH 7:30 p.m.
Thursday February 6 @ Ottawa 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday February 26 BOSTON 7:30 p.m.
Friday February 28 SAN JOSE 7:00 p.m.
Monday March 3 @ Dallas 8:00 p.m.
Thursday March 6 @ Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Friday March 7 @ Florida 7:30 p.m.
Sunday March 9 CHICAGO 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday March 11 NASHVILLE 7:00 p.m.
Thursday March 13 @ Carolina 7:00 p.m.
Saturday March 15 @ NY Islanders 7:00 p.m.
Sunday March 16 MONTREAL 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday March 18 @ Calgary 9:00 p.m.
Thursday March 20 @ Edmonton 9:30 p.m.
Sunday March 23 @ Vancouver 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday March 25 @ Montreal 7:30 p.m.
Thursday March 27 @ Nashville 8:00 p.m.
Saturday March 29 TAMPA BAY 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday April 1 NEW JERSEY 7:00 p.m.
Thursday April 3 @ St. Louis 8:00 p.m.
Friday April 4 @ Detroit 7:30 p.m.
Sunday April 6 @ Philadelphia 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday April 8 DETROIT 7:00 p.m.
Thursday April 10 @ NY Rangers 7:00 p.m.
Saturday April 12 @ Boston 12:30 p.m.
Sunday April 13 NY Islanders 5:00 p.m.

Related: Sabres’ 48-game schedule will be dizzying

Sabres’ schedule revamped for next season

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