Zenon Konopka (24) was whistled for interfering with Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky on Saturday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Zenon Konopka likely benched tonight; Henrik Tallinder nearing return

BUFFALO – Sabres center Zenon Konopka said he had spoken to interim coach Ted Nolan twice about his knack for picking up goaltender interference penalties.

“I made a conscious effort,” Konopka said Monday after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s contest against the Florida Panthers inside the First Niagara Center.

Still, Konopka, who had two calls early last week, earned a third Saturday, which led to Brandon Dubinsky’s go-ahead power-play goal in Columbus’ 4-3 shootout win.

Three strikes and you’re likely out of the lineup. Konopka skated as a spare forward Monday and almost certainly will be scratched tonight. Nolan benched him Saturday following the penalty.

“Obviously, I put myself in a 50-50 predicament where the referee could make a call,” Konopka said. “It was a bad decision on my part to myself in that. Do I agree with the call? I don’t know. I can’t put myself in that situation. I understand that everybody’s got to be held accountable. That’s up and down the lineup.”

Nolan said Konopka’s “going to have to wait.”

“If we’re going to change things, it can’t just be for a chosen few; it has to be for everybody,” he said. “Those penalties, they could be avoided. We can’t afford to take too many bad penalties. We can’t afford to take too many turnovers. They’re going to kill us every time. We’re forced to show the young guys to try to win on a consistent basis. Those are the type of things we have to do.”

Konopka’s goaltender interference call Tuesday led to a Philadelphia goal.

Winger Linus Omark practiced beside Cody Hodgson and Steve Ott on Monday and will likely return after two healthy scratches.

“We’ll give it another day to think about,” Nolan said about Omark.

In other lineup news, defenseman Henrik Tallinder (hand, eight games) is “pretty close” and will be a game-time decision, Nolan said.

Forward Kevin Porter (lower body, 11 games) practiced fully Monday and is getting closer, Nolan said.

Porter hasn’t played since Boston’s Johnny Boychuk hit him into the boards Dec. 21. At first, it seemed like he might’ve suffered a severe hip injury.

“I didn’t think it was that bad,” Porter said. “I got hit, I knew something was wrong when I tried to take my next stride.”

He added: “I don’t think it was a dirty hit, just kind of the wrong place.”

Meanwhile, forward Cody McCormick (hand, 14 games) is practicing but didn’t receive clearance from the doctor Friday, he said.

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