Jake McCabe

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Sabres respond with shutout win over Red Wings

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There are plenty of reasons to doubt the Buffalo Sabres, but Friday evening the club responded with an important victory following a disappointing effort the night prior.

Jake McCabe potted his first of the season, Sam Reinhart notched a power-play goal and Linus Ullmark recorded his third-career shutout as the Sabres prevented Thursday night’s 6-2 loss against the New York Rangers from having a ripple effect.

“It definitely as a coach helps when you have confirmation. Nothing ever replaces winning in sports,” Sabres coach Ralph Krueger recently said. “And we know the opposition will have more and more respect for us as we go on here, and we will need to be better every day to continue having success.”

Buffalo has been down this road before, posting a 17-6-2 record to open up the 2018-19 regular season. However, the Sabres’ 2-0 win against the Red Wings could be the mark of a team that is ready to turn the corner.

Last November, when the Sabres’ impressive 10-game winning streak came to an end, Buffalo dropped five consecutive games and its game dipped dramatically. The team only secured 16 victories in the final 57 games and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs by a wide margin.

But this year feels a bit different.

“When we play the right way, you see the results,” defenseman Colin Miller told The Athletic. “If we play within our system, I think we’re going to have a good chance every night. It’s fun hockey right now.”

Krueger’s impact on the Sabres has been felt in every aspect of the game through their 9-2-1 start. But his ability to allow his players to utilize their creative instincts has been most prominent on the man advantage. Buffalo’s power-play unit is operating at close to a 30% clip and is currently one of the five best in the NHL.

Victor Olofsson has been front and center with his six power-play goals. But, Jack Eichel leads the team with eight points on the man-advantage including an assist against Detroit. Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin has been able to effectively quarterback the group from the point, giving the Sabres options from multiple positions.

“You need to be creative within each game and take each game with a different approach to neutralize some of that pre-scouting that’s going on,” Krueger told the Athletic. “But what we have is an extremely skilled group when it comes to puck possession and the opportunity that lies within it. It’s been a lot of fun. They’ve bought into the principles and we give them a lot of freedom to create within that.”

The Sabres will be forced to prove the doubters wrong given their recent history. But with an imaginative coach and a lethal power-play unit, they have the chance to snap their postseason drought.

MORE: Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV Schedule

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Sabres avoid arbitration; reach deals with McCabe, Ullmark

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Sabres have avoided arbitration rulings by reaching agreements to sign defenseman Jake McCabe and goalie Linus Ullmark.

McCabe agreed to a two-year $5.7 million contract Saturday, a day before his scheduled hearing. Ullmark agreed to a one-year $1.325 million contract a day after his hearing, but before an arbitrator issued a decision.

Though the Sabres avoided the players potentially being awarded more expensive contracts, the deals push Buffalo about $1 million over the $81.5 million salary cap. That puts the team in a position to have to create additional space before the season opens in early October.

The 25-year-old McCabe has four full seasons of NHL experience since being selected by Buffalo in the second round of the 2012 draft. He had four goals and 14 points in 59 games, and ranked fifth among Sabres defensemen in averaging just less than 19 minutes of play last season.

Ullmark had a 15-14-5 record and two shutouts over 37 games in his first full NHL season, while splitting the goalie duties with Carter Hutton. The 26-year-old from Sweden struggled down the stretch by going 2-9-1 over his final 12 appearances.

Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe to miss 5-6 weeks with injury

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe is expected to miss the remainder of the season with what the team calls an upper body injury.

McCabe was hurt in a 5-2 loss at Toronto on Saturday. With a little over a month left in the season, the Sabres on Monday announced the timetable for McCabe’s recovery is between five and six weeks.

The Sabres sit 11th in the Eastern Conference standings and are in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for an eighth straight season.

McCabe is in his fourth full year in Buffalo and missed the final two months of last season after having surgery to his thumb and shoulder. He has matched a career-best with four goals and has 10 assists for 14 points in 55 games this year.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Sabres send McCabe and Pysyk to AHL

The Buffalo Sabres have assigned defensemen Jake McCabe and Mark Pysyk to AHL Rochester.

Neither McCabe, 21, nor Pysyk, 22, have played this season; both have been recovering from injuries.

The Sabres already had eight healthy d-men on the roster: Andre Benoit, Josh Gorges, Andrej Meszaros, Tyler Myers, Rasmus Ristolainen, Tyson Strachan, Mike Weber, and Nikita Zadorov.

Buffalo hosts Florida on Friday.

Kaleta, Hackett among six Sabres placed on IR

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The Buffalo Sabres announced roster moves on Tuesday, confirming that the following six players have been placed on IR: Matthew Hackett (pictured), Patrick Kaleta, Johan Larsson, Jake McCabe and Mark Pysyk.

Earlier today, head coach Ted Nolan said that McCabe, 20, was going through a “maintenance day.” That gives the feeling that he isn’t that far off from being game-ready, but then again, it’s really just as opaque as referring to someone as day-to-day.

Pysyk, 22, was at least healthy enough to do some charitable work on Tuesday:

There’s no word regarding whether any of these moves might help Mikhail Grigorenko get some NHL reps. With Sam Reinhart likely to test the waters at the highest level, that might need to wait, if such an opportunity was in the cards in the first place.

Buffalo isn’t without good news today overall, as they announced new captain Brian Gionta as well alternates Josh Gorges and Matt Moulson.