BUFFALO – How dramatically have things changed for the Sabres in a year?
Last season, the Sabres carried an ugly six-game losing skid into their annual Thanksgiving Eve home tilt. The Minnesota Wild beat them 5-4 before they finally won again two nights later.
Right now, the Sabres are enjoying their first six-game winning streak in almost nine years. A win tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers inside KeyBank Center will give them their first seven-game run since starting the 2006-07 season 10-0-0.
In winning so many contests dramatically – they’ve roared back from third-period deficits in five of the six wins – the Sabres have developed some “swagger,” according to winger Evan Rodrigues.
“What we’ve seen is when we’re down a goal or two, there’s no doubt really at all,” said Rodrigues, who will return tonight after sitting out scratched three straight games. “There’s a belief in the room, a swagger in the room. It’s a little bit of cockiness that we believe we can come back. Some people deal with that negatively, but I think that gives you that much more confidence. It’s what you need.”
The Sabres need Rodrigues, who has six assists in 15 games, to score his first goal.
“When he’s at his best, he’s attacking the game with his speed, he does a good job of using that entering the offensive zone, and I think … we just need a little bit more consistency from him,” Housley said.
Rodrigues will play because forward Patrik Berglund has an upper-body injury and will be evaluated later today, Housley said.
Rodrigues will skate at left wing beside center Johan Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons.
Meanwhile, defenseman Marco Scandella will miss tonight’s game with a lower-body injury and is day-to-day, Housley said.
Update: The Sabres recalled defenseman Lawrence Pilut from the Rochester Americans this afternoon.
Scandella skated with his teammates this morning but left the ice limping. Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu will move in after sitting out two straight games.
In other injuries news, winger Scott Wilson, out since breaking his ankle in the preseason, is doing weight-bearing exercises with his feet and close to skating, Housley said.
“He’s made some great progress,” Housley said.
Carter Hutton will start in goal. The newcomer is 5-0-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage in his last five games. Flyers goalie Alex Lyon will oppose him.
The Sabres, who won 11 home games all season a year ago, are 6-2-1 this year. The building could be packed and loud tonight.
“Certainly, our home record was poor,” Housley said. “A lot of guys, I guess I would say, looked at it as being really important as our start to the season trying to win as many home games as possible.”
Rodrigues said: “We’re starting to feed off crowds.”
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