Matt Hackett has played five games this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres practice 3-on-3; Goalie Matt Hackett ready to return

BUFFALO – Instead of a regular practice today, the Sabres held a three-on-three scrimmage officiated by assistant coach Tom Coolen, who barked out orders in a full referee outfit in front of a crowd of veterans invited by the team.

Players gleefully challenged his calls.

“We could actually tell what we really feel against one of our own,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan joked inside the First Niagara Center.

Nolan, whose team had Tuesday off, held three-on-three skates once a week as a junior coach.

“It’s good for your conditioning,” he said. “It’s good to read and react and it’s good to see who reads and reacts on a regular basis.”

In other news, Sabres goalie Matt Hackett, who missed five games because he was “swollen and bruised,” practiced today.

“He looked good today,” Nolan said. “He feels good.”

Nolan wasn’t sure if Hackett would play again this season.

Hackett will become an unrestricted free agent because he won’t hit the eight-game mark. The 25-year-old has played five with two contests left.

“I’m not worried about that,” Hackett said. “The main focus is my knee. I have no contract going into next year, so I’m going to make sure I take care of it.”

Meanwhile, Nolan said defenseman Andre Benoit, who left Monday’s 4-3 win against Carolina with an upper-body injury, “didn’t feel good.” The Sabres will know more later.

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