Marcus Foligno has been utilizing his big frame. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres notes: Marcus Foligno showcasing toughness

BUFFALO – Sabres winger Marcus Foligno has a simple explanation why he fixed his hair at a bizarre time – during a heavyweight scrap against Shawn Thornton, the NHL’s dean of fighters – in Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers.

“Just try to get readjusted and get ready for round two,” a smiling Foligno said Thursday prior to the Sabres’ 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes inside KeyBank Center.

The bout was a fight lover’s dream, the 6-foot-3, 228-pound Foligno against the 6-foot-2, 218-pound Thornton, who’s 39 years old.

After Thornton pried Foligno away from the Florida crease, the two began fighting. Foligno’s helmet was eventually knocked off and the two became untangled.

But they weren’t done.

As they squared off for round two, Foligno ran his hands through his hair three times to keep it out of his eyes, he said.

It looked more like Foligno was styling it, however.

Within minutes, social media went wild. The Sabres quickly created a GIF, which Foligno’s brother, Nick, retweeted.

Foligno said Thornton, the toughest guy he has ever fought, didn’t notice the hair-fixing.

“I’m sure he had a laugh after,” he said.

The hair overshadowed what Foligno called a “good fight” shortly after the Sabres tied the game at 2.

“He’s a tough competitor,” Foligno said. “Shawn Thornton, I got a lot of respect for that guy. He’s been through a lot of fights in his career. So it was good. The boys were very pumped after.”

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said the fight “sparked Marcus’ game.”

“There’s no mistaking what Thornton was doing coming on the ice and coming to the net there and doing what he did,” Bylsma said. “He was trying to spark his team with what he was doing. That’s a big man and a tough guy to have to deal with, and Marcus I thought did a great job in the fight, stood up for us and his teammates. …

“That’s the way Marcus has got to play. He’s got to be a big, strong, physical guy for us. He should be a force to be reckoned with. He proved it not so much with the hair thing, but with the fight.”

Foligno usually fixes his hair at a more appropriate time.

“Just when I’m trying to style it in the mirror,” he joked.

Bylsma recently promoted Foligno to the left wing beside top center Ryan O’Reilly and Sam Reinhart. Foligno also played on the second power-play unit Thursday.

Sabres winger Evander Kane began Thursday’s tilt with six goals and nine points in the last 10 games, including two scores in the last two contests.

What has buoyed the inconsistent veteran?

“In the last two games, he’s really been our best forward – speed, physicality, getting in the offensive zone, being hard to play against, being around the cage,” Bylsma said.

After breaking four ribs opening night, Kane started slowly, going 11 games with a goal. The injury, Bylsma said, was a factor.

In the last three weeks, however, Kane has “been a force with his speed, a force with his physicality,” Bylsma said.

“We need him to be,” Bylsma said.

The Sabres made two lineup changes, scratching winger William Carrier and defenseman Cody Franson.

Winger Nick Deslauriers, a scratch last game, and defenseman Justin Falk, a scratch two straight contests, moved in.

Former Sabres center David Legwand, who played 79 games last season, has retired, the NHLPA announced Thursday.

Legwand, 36, played 1,136 NHL games, compiling 228 goals and 618 points. The Nashville Predators drafted the American second overall in Buffalo in 1998.

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