Hudson Fasching

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Condon continues strong start with Senators

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Coming off what Guy Boucher called their “worst game of the year,” the Ottawa Senators impressed their coach with a comeback effort Wednesday night.

Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris scored during a shootout, helping the Senators beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1.

Backup goaltender Mike Condon made 31 saves, including eight in overtime, as the Senators rebounded from a 3-1 loss in Nashville on Tuesday and avenged a 2-1 loss to the Sabres at home Saturday.

“That’s a lot of resiliency,” Boucher said. “I’m really proud of the guys because that’s a tough back-to-back.”

Turris scored in the first round of the shootout to match Sam Reinhart‘s tally, and then Ryan put Ottawa ahead in the second round. Condon stopped Brian Gionta on Buffalo’s final attempt.

Ryan Dzingel got a tying goal for Ottawa 7:15 into the second period.

Nicholas Baptiste scored for Buffalo, and former Senator Robin Lehner made 28 saves while the Sabres lost their second in a row.

Buffalo controlled the action throughout overtime, outshooting Ottawa 8-0.

“We just possessed the puck the whole time for the most part and had some glorious chances to win the game,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.

Zemgus Girgensons got a point-blank shot past Condon with 27 seconds remaining, but the puck ricocheted off the back of Condon’s skate and the left post.

“It’s funny how puck luck works,” Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe said. “Hopefully one of these days, the puck’s going to bounce our way. But we just got to keep doing the right things, create our own luck.”

Condon has won both of his starts for the Senators since being acquired in a trade with Pittsburgh on Nov. 2. He made 27 saves in a 1-0 shutout of Vancouver in his debut.

“It’s great for a guy to come in and make his presence known like that,” Dzingel said. “Hats off to him. Two great games.”

Baptiste gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead 2:49 into the first. Derek Grant‘s faceoff win and a quick pass from Cole Schneider set up Baptiste’s wrist shot from the left circle. It was Baptiste’s second career goal and Schneider’s first point.

The Senators tied it when Dzingel split defensemen Dmitry Kulikov and Rasmus Ristolainen and lifted a shot from the left slot over Lehner’s blocking pad. Dzingel has scored four of his five goals on the road this season.

Buffalo killed three penalties spanning 4:36 in the second period, including a 5-on-3 that lasted 1:24.

Forward Evander Kane returned to the Sabres top line after missing 11 games with cracked ribs, but Buffalo was still without its top two centers, Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel. O’Reilly is day-to-day with an upper body injury, Bylsma said. Eichel has yet to play this season due to a high ankle sprain, but Bylsma said he could be cleared for on-ice workouts next week.

NOTES:

Senators F Chris Neil missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Ottawa recalled F Mike Blunden to replace Neil on the fourth line. … F Tyler Ennis sat out for Buffalo with a mid-body injury. … Buffalo recalled Schneider from the minors and sent down F Hudson Fasching. Schneider was tied for the AHL scoring lead with 15 points.

UP NEXT:

Senators: Host Los Angeles on Friday.

Sabres: Host New Jersey on Friday.

Injuries: No O’Reilly for Sabres, Dubinsky out for Columbus

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A few injury updates dropped in a short period of time, so let’s address Wednesday’s considerations in one spot to save you a click or two.

For one thing, the Buffalo Sabres will be without Ryan O'Reilly against the Ottawa Senators; the Buffalo News John Vogl notes that it’s an undisclosed issue. Not long ago, the Sabres recalled Cole Schneider from the AHL while demoting Hudson Fasching.

In that same game, the Senators noted that tough forward Chris Neil won’t be able to go because of an upper-body injury. Michael Blunden takes his place in the mix.

Finally, Brandon Dubinsky is sidelined with a lower-body injury in a Columbus Blue Jackets – Anaheim Ducks game that is just under way. Injuries are stacking up for the Blue Jackets, who are reeling from Seth Jones‘ injury.

Dubinsky’s loss could be Sonny Milano’s gain, so that’s something to watch tonight.

After 11-game absence, Kane back for Sabres

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It was way back on Oct. 13 — during Buffalo’s first game of the year, against Montreal — when Evander Kane slammed hard into the end boards, and suffered a significant rib injury.

Nearly a full month and 11 games later, Kane’s ready to return.

On Wednesday morning, the Sabres announced that Kane would be back in the lineup tonight, when they take on the Senators. It should be a big boost for Buffalo, to say the least — Kane, who scored 20 goals in just 65 games last year, will provide an offensive spark for a club that’s had a difficult time finding the back of the net lately.

Buffalo is 2-2 over its last four games, but has scored only five goals over that span.

On Monday, the club was shut-out 4-0 in Boston.

Kane projects to play on the club’s top line next to Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo, though that’s not 100 percent certain for tonight — O’Reilly, who head coach Dan Bylsma listed as questionable, missed this morning’s skate. His spot was filled by Hudson Fasching.

Sabres send Alex Nylander down to the AHL

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After signing Rasmus Ristolainen to a substantial new deal, it feels like the future is now for the Buffalo Sabres. That doesn’t mean they’re rushing things.

The Sabres announced their 23-man roster in accordance with the league deadline, and two especially noteworthy teams didn’t make the cut: Alexander Nylander and Brendan Guhle.

Nylander, the eighth pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, will ply his trade in the AHL. Guhle (51st overall in 2015) returns to the junior level.

Overall, it’s sensible enough for Buffalo to send Nylander to the AHL at 18. The logic would likely be that he’s far more likely to get needed reps at that level rather than being a depth piece in the NHL.

Buffalo sent three other players to the AHL on Tuesday: Nicholas Baptiste, Daniel Catenacci and Justin Falk. Meanwhile, Hudson Fasching, Derek Grant and Casey Nelson managed to make the cut (for now?).

You can view the full Game 1 roster (14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies) right here.

Under Pressure: Matt Moulson

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This post is part of Buffalo Sabres day at PHT…

The 2015-16 campaign was not kind to veteran Sabres winger Matt Moulson.

Don’t believe us? Just check the headlines:

Mired in career-worst scoring slump, Moulson ‘just trying to find some confidence’

Bylsma says Moulson ‘needs to get back to playing the way he can’

Your latest pricey healthy scratch: Matt Moulson and his $5M cap hit

Sabres GM pushing Moulson to get into better shape

Despite ‘tough season for all of us to watch,’ Sabres won’t buy out Moulson

Yeah. Tough year.

A three-time 30-goal scorer, Moulson’s ability to find the back of the net abandoned him last year, finishing with just eight tallies in 81 games. That low output looks even worse when you consider the 32-year-old started the year reasonably well — three goals and five points in his first 10 games — before his production literally fell off a cliff.

Which brings us to the pressure point.

From a personal perspective, there’s no question Moulson’s feeling it. Sabres GM Tim Murray said the veteran was “very disappointed in himself” last season. It’s also probably hard for Moulson to ignore that, at $5 million annually through 2019, he’ll continually be defined by that contract, and the fact he’s Buffalo’s fifth highest-paid player.

There will be pressure coming from the organization as well.

Murray already threw down the gauntlet, suggesting that 1) Moulson’s fitness needs to improve and 2) a summer buyout was a possibility.

Head coach Dan Bylsma has also thrown down.

Making Moulson a healthy scratch last December didn’t seem to have much of an impact and, a month later, Bylsma bluntly said “I don’t like where [Moulson’s] game is at.”

Heading into the ’16-17 campaign, it’s clear the coach’s expectations for the group — Moulson included — have risen. This past July, Bylsma said the Sabres are stronger than last year, and suggested they “should be above 95 points at the end of the season.”

Disco Dan also said Buffalo would be deeper next season, which could be a major issue for Moulson. The addition of his former Isles running mate, Kyle Okposo, should give the Sabres another dimension up front, and it remains to be seen how youngsters knocking at the door — like Alex Nylander, Justin Bailey and Hudson Fasching — will work their way into the mix.

Add it all up, and Moulson could very well be looking at more time in the press box.