On a day filled with sadness for the Sabres organization as they received news of legendary Sabres forward Rick Martin passing away this afternoon, the Sabres on the ice did well to honor his legend by lighting up the Senators 6-4. Youngster Tyler Ennis led the way for Buffalo scoring two goals while Nathan Gerbe scored a ripper of a slap shot that had coach Lindy Ruff praising Gerbe for scoring in a way that made him think of Martin.
Sabres defenseman Mike Weber finished the game with three assists and Thomas Vanek had a goal and an assist as well for Buffalo as they improved to 76 points and back into a tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference with the Rangers. Jhonas Enroth got the start in goal and made 34 saves for Buffalo to earn the win.
Ottawa’s Jason Spezza had a huge game in the loss scoring two goals and assisting on both Colin Greening and Erik Karlsson’s goals as well. Spezza is virtually the lone big name forward left on the ice at the moment for the Senators and seeing him step up in such a way is encouraging to see. Craig Anderson was chased from the game after giving up four goals on 17 shots in just 22:10 of action. Curtis McElhinney took the loss in the game, however, giving up two goals in 16 shots.
The win keeps Buffalo four ahead of Carolina for the final playoff spots in the East while Toronto and Atlanta are each six points out. New Jersey continues to lurk eight points out. Florida and the Islanders are a distant 11 points back. The Sabres will have an important game coming on Tuesday night at home against Carolina. With less than 15 games to go in the season for most teams, every game will feel like a playoff game for teams still in the hunt.
As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.
On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.
He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.
From CSN Mid-Atlantic:
The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.
Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.
He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.
The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.
There was no call on the play.
Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.
Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.
Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.
That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:
The Anaheim Ducks have been without goalie John Gibson for almost two full weeks because of injury, but head coach Randy Carlyle provided reason for optimism on Thursday.
Per reports, Gibson took part in practice and Carlyle has said that his No. 1 netminder will play again during the regular season. Anaheim has nine games remaining on its schedule.
That’s good news for Anaheim heading into the post-season.
While Gibson has been out, Jonathan Bernier has stepped beyond his back-up role and provided solid goaltending for the Ducks during the stretch drive — which should also be a bonus for this club with the playoffs quickly approaching.
Bernier has wins in six of his last seven starts. In nine games this month, he has only twice allowed three goals or more.
The Ducks have fought their way back into contention for the Pacific Division with a recent surge that has coincided with San Jose’s current skid — only four wins in their last 10 games and four straight losses.
Related: Career back on track, Bernier hopes he can re-sign in Anaheim