Sam Reinhart fights for position in front of St. Louis goalie Carter Hutton and Jay Bouwmeester on Saturday. ©2018, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres must possess shot mentality

BUFFALO – It’s actually one of the few notable categories the Sabres don’t rank last or near the bottom of the NHL. Through 52 games they’re 21st in shots, averaging 30.9.

Of course, that hasn’t translated into much. They’ve won only 14 games and have scored the fewest goals overall (117) and five-on-five (71).

If the Sabres, fresh off Saturday’s 1-0 loss to St. Louis, want to start scoring, they must pump more pucks on net.

“We’re not shooting the puck enough,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said this afternoon, repeating something he has said all season. “There’s a lot of opportunities we’re trying to make a play and we have to put more pucks to the net and we have to put more players there.

“We talked about that a lot, and what it does is creates offense, it creates a second opportunity, it changes defenses. Now, they have to react to us. I think we have to continue to pound that message.”

Housley said the Sabres must possess a mindset they’re going to shoot when they cross the blue line.

“It’s a very simple game, but I don’t think we have it,” he said inside KeyBank Center. “I think there’s times we do. I thought we had it on the west coast swing. I think we’re just trying to be too fine and too cute. To score goals in this league, it’s shots and traffic, it creates. …

“You watch the highlights, it’s puck going to the net and traffic, and the guys who haven’t scored a lot of goals recently, we got to have more guys going there because you’re going to find a way, it’s going to hit you, you’re going to get a rebound.

“Yeah, that’s a tough place to play, but guys that go there get rewarded.”

In other news, Justin Falk skated among the top six defensemen today inside HarborCenter, meaning he could return for Tuesday’s home tilt against Anaheim after sitting out Saturday. Defenseman Victor Antipin would likely be scratched.

Update: Former Sabres goalie Ryan Miller will start for Anaheim tonight in Toronto, meaning he likely won’t play Tuesday in Buffalo.

Miller, now the Ducks’ backup, has been subbing for injured starter John Gibson, who is close to returning from a lower-body injury.

“Every time I have a chance to see him it’s fun,” said winger Jason Pominville said, one four Sabres who played with Miller. “He’s definitely a guy I got along with really well, I spent a lot of years with him. He’s a good friend, so every time we can catch up and play against each other is always interesting.”

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