Buffalo goalie Michael Houser is embraced after Monday’s win by teammates Will Borgen (left) and Rasmus Ristolainen. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres goalie Michael Houser shines in NHL debut: ‘A very special night’

BUFFALO – Eight teams, nine seasons and 284 games into his pro career, Sabres goalie Michael Houser made his NHL debut, stopping 34 shots in Monday’s 4-2 come-from-behind win over the New York Islanders.

In a dreadful year in which the Sabres could finish dead last again, Houser’s first big league start created a feel-good story that provided some excitement and intrigue to a meaningless late-season game.

Houser, 28, has spent most of his career ... Read the full article

Jacob Bryson believes Buffalo played better than Thursday’s 5-2 loss indicates. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres started winning, showcased rapid improvement in April

A month ago, the Buffalo Sabres were in the midst of an embarrassing 18-game winless skid, so finishing April with a 6-8-2 record illustrates their rapid improvement in barely four weeks.

Remember, the Sabres had trouble scoring a single goal most games in February and March. Now, they’ve morphed into a team capable of beating any of their heavyweight East Division opponents.

Of course, they’re not exactly a playoff-caliber team yet. But they’re clearly getting ... Read the full article

Mattias Samuelsson was recalled Sunday. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres prospect Mattias Samuelsson looks impressive in NHL debut

BUFFALO – A month ago, recalling defenseman Mattias Samuelsson and giving one of their top prospects a taste of the NHL wasn’t an option for the Sabres.

They were in the midst of their marathon 18-game winless skid, and the defense corps, like every aspect of the team, was struggling. They couldn’t expose a rookie to that environment.

But the defense has been thriving under interim coach Don Granato and interim assistant Dan Girardi, ... Read the full article

Casey Mittelstadt has become Buffalo’s top offensive threat. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Casey Mittelstadt, Sabres’ other young players growing under Don Granato

BUFFALO – In his first 12 games as interim coach, Don Granato’s most telling accomplishment has been his ability to unlock potential from several of the Sabres’ young players who struggled to stay in the lineup earlier this season.

Consider that in Friday’s 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals, center Casey Mittelstadt, defenseman Henri Jokiharju and winger Tage Thompson scored for the Sabres inside KeyBank Center.

All three players are 23 or under and spent ... Read the full article

Henri Jokiharju (pictured) enjoys playing beside Rasmus Dahlin. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ Henri Jokiharju shaking off poor stretch, playing confidently

BUFFALO – Barely a year after Henri Jokiharju established himself as one of the Sabres’ top defensemen, he started struggling so badly he was demoted to the taxi squad.

Jokiharju, 21, sat out 10 games earlier this season. At times, he looked nothing like the steady defender from 2019-20.

But Jokiharju has settled down under interim Sabres coach Don Granato, showcasing more confidence beside Rasmus Dahlin, his partner over the last eight games.

Jokiharju ... Read the full article

New Jersey’s Miles Wood and Buffalo’s Brandon Montour battle in front of goalie Linus Ullmark on Thursday. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres battle back against Devils, still lose: ‘We just didn’t have it’

BUFFALO – A few weeks ago, an early two-goal deficit like the Sabres experienced Thursday against the New Jersey Devils would’ve been insurmountable.

They would’ve folded and gone down meekly.

But over the past week or so, the Sabres have morphed into, well, a somewhat normal team. Yes, they’re still one of the NHL’s lightweights, but they’re much more competitive.

While Thursday’s 6-3 loss inside KeyBank Center ended their two-game winning streak and five-game point ... Read the full article

Rasmus Dahlin looked dejected Monday. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres blow three-goal lead, lose in OT to Flyers: ‘This … is embarrassing’

BUFFALO – After 34 days, more than 1,000 minutes of hockey and one coaching change, it appeared the Sabres would finally halt their winless skid Monday.

Instead, they suffered the most gut-wrenching loss of their 18-game streak, blowing a 3-0 third-period lead and falling to the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime inside KeyBank Center.

Good grief. What happened late? How did the Sabres suddenly start chasing the game after dominating it for 40 minutes?

“Panic ... Read the full article

Tage Thompson has often been a healthy scratch this season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ Tage Thompson could thrive under interim coach Don Granato

BUFFALO – After morphing from a first-liner into a healthy scratch earlier this season, Tage Thompson could enjoy regular duty under interim coach Don Granato.

Thompson needs consistent action to buoy his development. The 6-foot-7, 219-pound winger has played only 17 NHL games in a more than two-year stretch.

Monday’s 4-3 overtime loss to Philadelphia Flyers at KeyBank Center was the Sabres’ 18th straight defeat. They have nothing to lose by playing him.

“It’s ... Read the full article

Linus Ullmark has missed 12 games. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Goalie Linus Ullmark to join Sabres on road trip, start practicing

BUFFALO – The Sabres plan for injured goalie Linus Ullmark to join them on their four-game road trip later this week, interim coach Don Granato said.

The Sabres have imploded without Ullmark, their No. 1 goalie. Their 13-game losing streak began Feb. 25, the game he suffered a lower-body injury.

“We need to integrate him into practice,” interim Sabres coach Don Granato said on a Zoom call this afternoon. “At some point, that’s the next ... Read the full article

Don Granato coached his first game Thursday. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Don Granato faces challenges before first game as interim Sabres coach

BUFFALO – Instead of having a day or two of practice and preparation prior to his first game as interim Sabres coach, Don Granato had one meeting just two hours before the opening faceoff.

On Thursday, a day after the Sabres fired coach Ralph Krueger and named Granato, 53, his interim replacement, a member of their hockey staff entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. The Sabres, who had Wednesday off, canceled their morning skate and stayed ... Read the full article