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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Friday, 04.26.2013 / 1:09 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Islanders focused on moving up in standings

BUFFALO -- The New York Islanders have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but find themselves in eighth place heading into their final game of the regular season Friday night. When the Islanders take on the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center, they'll have an opportunity to improve that position.

At 54 points, they're in a three-way tie with the sixth-place Ottawa Senators and the seventh-place New York Rangers. Ottawa has two games remaining while the Rangers have one. Both the Senators and Rangers are idle on Friday.

The Islanders are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. It was New York's first regulation loss in 12 games. They were on an 8-0-3 run and are 11-2-3 in their past 16 games, but 0-1-1 in their past two.

"I just want to get back -- and I know the guys want to get back -- to playing the way that we want to play. Win or lose, we just have to make sure we play our style," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.


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POSTED ON Monday, 04.22.2013 / 1:27 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Redmond skating with Jets, no timetable on return

BUFFALO -- Zach Redmond skated with the Winnipeg Jets during their morning skate at First Niagara Center on Monday after the team recalled the rookie defenseman from a conditioning stint with St. John's of the American Hockey League.

Redmond has been out since Feb. 21 when an artery and vein in his right leg were cut by a skate during practice. Surgery was required to repair the injury.

Jets coach Claude Noel said there is no timetable for Redmond's return to the lineup, as he wants to work to build more strength in that leg.

"It's unbelievable that in a matter of six weeks, he's back. It's really hard to fathom," Noel said. "When he went down, we didn't really know what would take place. We were hopeful, but not like this."

The Jets are well aware that they will likely have to win their final three games to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


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POSTED ON Friday, 04.19.2013 / 12:28 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Sabres get set for must-win against Rangers

BUFFALO -- For the Buffalo Sabres, it's essentially win or start thinking about next season.

The Sabres face what comes down to an elimination game Friday night when they host the New York Rangers at First Niagara Center.

Buffalo, 10th in the Eastern Conference with 44 points, trails eighth-place New York by four points. The Sabres have four games remaining including Friday; the Rangers have five games left. The Rangers hold the tiebreaker with five more non-shootout wins than the Sabres.

A regulation win by New York would eliminate Buffalo from qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A Sabres victory would keep their hopes alive for at least one more day.

Due to circumstances in Boston, Buffalo's game at the Pittsburgh Penguins scheduled for Saturday has been moved to Tuesday. The Sabres will next play Monday at home against the Winnipeg Jets.

"We have to take care of our own destiny in that aspect," Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said. "We've been that way for a while, just concentrating on one game and playing our best in that game. That'll be the same case [Friday]."

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POSTED ON Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 1:04 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Canadiens can reach first goal by clinching playoffs

BUFFALO -- The Montreal Canadiens have a chance to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday and the players are well aware of that opportunity.

The Canadiens can qualify for the playoffs with a win against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center, or if they earn one point against the Sabres and the Florida Panthers defeat the Winnipeg Jets in any fashion Thursday.

"At the start of this season, your first goal is to get into the playoffs, and we have an opportunity tonight to reach that first goal," Canadiens alternate captain Josh Gorges said. "I think we have to understand and respect the importance of tonight's game and understand the opponent that we're facing too."

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POSTED ON Sunday, 04.07.2013 / 12:36 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Youthful flavor working for Sabres, interim coach

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres will look to make it three wins in a row while the New Jersey Devils hope to snap a three-game losing streak when the teams meet at First Niagara Center on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

Thomas Vanek, Buffalo's leading scorer, will miss his sixth game in a row with an upper-body injury. He did not participate in the team's morning skate Sunday, but interim coach Ron Rolston said it was not due to a setback; Vanek was scheduled to have the day off. Rolston said Vanek would practice again Monday.

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POSTED ON Friday, 04.05.2013 / 1:16 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Senators to debut Conacher on all-rookie line

BUFFALO -- Cory Conacher will make his debut with the Ottawa Senators on Friday against the Buffalo Sabres on an all-rookie line.

The undrafted rookie will play alongside center Mika Zibanejad and right wing Jakob Silfverberg on Ottawa's second line. Conacher had nine goals and 15 assists in 35 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season before being traded to the Senators on Wednesday for goaltender Ben Bishop.

"I think we have a lot of speed on our line. Those two guys that I'm playing with are guys that are very confident with the puck and they're very patient," Conacher said. "They know how to make plays and, like I said, they're fast too, so they'll take pucks to the net pretty quick. So you've got to be ready for that."

Conacher grew up in Toronto and played at Canisius College in Buffalo, so he's expecting a big turnout of fans and family for the game.

"We certainly feel that motivation isn't going to be a concern for him. It might be over the top if it's going to be anything," Senators coach Paul MacLean said.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 03.31.2013 / 1:29 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Vanek will miss third straight game; Enroth may start

BUFFALO – The Buffalo Sabres will be without leading scorer Thomas Vanek for a third straight game.

Vanek took the ice along with forward John Scott and goaltender Ryan Miller following a team meeting Sunday morning. After the skate, Vanek told reporters that he would not be able to play Sunday night when the Sabres host the Boston Bruins.

“Today went a lot better than yesterday, but [I’m] still not where I would like it to be, so I just have to be patient, which is obviously a tough thing to do in the position we’re at,” Vanek said.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 03.30.2013 / 8:08 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013 Trade Deadline blog

Regier: Nobody on Sabres is untouchable

BUFFALO – No one on the Buffalo Sabres is untouchable.

With the Sabres in 13th place in the Eastern Conference heading into Saturday’s game against the Washington Capitals and the trade deadline on Wednesday, Buffalo general manager Darcy Regier indicated that the team will be looking to improve with a focus on the future and that any player could be involved in trade discussions.

Earlier in the day, Regier traded veteran defenseman and upcoming unrestricted free agent Jordan Leopold to the St. Louis Blues for a second-round and a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft that could turn into a fourth-round if the Blues win a playoff round. Depending on how trade talks go over the next few days, the Sabres may not be done making moves.


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POSTED ON Saturday, 03.30.2013 / 1:21 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Vanek out for Sabres against Capitals

BUFFALO -- Thomas Vanek will miss his second straight game with an upper-body injury when the Buffalo Sabres take on the Washington Capitals at First Niagara Center on Saturday.

Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said Vanek possibly could return on Sunday for Buffalo’s home game against the Boston Bruins.

Vanek, Buffalo's leading scorer, took part in the team’s optional skate Saturday morning.

“He was out there today and moving, but he’s not where he needs to be,” Rolston said.

Washington defenseman Jeff Schultz will return to its lineup after sitting out the past four games as a healthy scratch.

“Sometimes you ask a guy to step back and re-evaluate themselves. We’ve got two games in two nights and we need him,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “We need his size and he need him to be a force. Hopefully it [was] a little bit of a wake-up call.”

Jhonas Enroth will start in goal for Buffalo against Braden Holtby. Each team plays three games in the next four nights.

Here are the projected lineups for Saturday:

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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.21.2013 / 11:46 AM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Vanek will miss Sabres' game vs. Maple Leafs

BUFFALO -- Thomas Vanek will not be in the lineup Thursday night when the Buffalo Sabres take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at First Niagara Center.

Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston told the media after the team's morning skate that Vanek is still sore from being hit with a shot in the second period on Tuesday in Montreal.

Vanek was in front of the net on a Buffalo power play when he was struck by defenseman Christian Ehrhoff's shot from the point. The Sabres are calling it a lower-body injury. Vanek did not take the ice Thursday.

"He's better today," Rolston said. "He feels, actually, good and starting the process, so we're hoping to get him on the ice tomorrow."


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For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said after their 4-3 OT win vs. Pittsburgh in Game 2, the franchise's first ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory