MONTREAL – It was here, Sept. 15 inside the Bell Centre, that Buffalo Sabres rookie Zemgus Girgensons first sent notice he wouldn’t be leaving the NHL.
The Latvian winger scored twice in the Sabres’ first exhibition game, a 5-4 shootout win against the Canadiens. Of course, preseason openers are often filled with junior and AHL players with little or no chance of making the big club.
Still, Girgensons’ performance impressed the Sabres.
“That was a big game, definitely,” Girgensons said this morning after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s tilt. “I scored two goals last time here.”
The 19-year-old hasn’t scored much since then, however. Twenty-eight games into his first season, he has one goal, which he scored opening night.
Hopefully, Girgensons said, playing here again will buoy him.
“I need to bury some chances,” he said. “So I hope it could be a turnaround with what I had here, just kind of flash back.”
“It’s a jump,” he said. “Every year I’ve made a jump. I’ve been getting chances. Against Detroit (Nov. 24) I had two chances. It’s just about starting getting those chances in the net, behind the line. It’ll come.”
Girgensons lost some shifts in Thursday’s 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers.
“I didn’t think I played good at all,” said Girgensons, who had been sick.
He added: “I had zero energy, just felt really empty. So I think the coach did the right thing with doing that.”