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BOGOSIAN BACK ON ICE; FRANSON OUT FOR SUNDAY'S GAME

by Jourdon LaBarber / Buffalo Sabres

Zach Bogosian was back on the ice for practice at HARBORCENTER on Saturday morning, albeit with a fresh looking scar stitched up on the left side of his face. Fellow defenseman Cody Franson, however, wasn’t so lucky.

Bogosian and Franson were both on the receiving ends of hits that ended their nights in Columbus early on Friday. Scott Hartnell was assessed a boarding major for his hit from behind on Franson in the second period, while Boone Jenner received a hooking major and a game misconduct for his play on Bogosian in the third.

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said Bogosian already felt fine after getting stitched up on Friday night. The team remains uncertain, however, about the severity of Franson's injury beyond the fact that he will not be able to play against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon at First Niagara Center.

"He's suffering with some neck issues from the hit as well. So unsure of what exactly he's dealing with but yes, he's not going to be able to go tomorrow," Bylsma said of Franson.

The Sabres didn’t take kindly to those two plays, and boy did it show on the ice. After Bogosian went down, even Robin Lehner got involved in the scuffle as he skated out of the crease and challenge Jack Johnson.

"I mean we have to stick up for each other and it’s a nice feeling when guys do that for you," Bogosian said. "It's like a brotherhood in there. You've got to stick up for each other and I know Robin, you never really see a goalie go after someone but it’s a good feeling. We're bought into this, we're emotionally invested and that’s the way it has to be."

Ryan O'Reilly was also absent from practice on Saturday for a maintenance day, but Bylsma expects him to be ready to play come Sunday. Lehner will start again against the Penguins, while Mike Weber will return to the lineup in place of Franson.

Sunday's game can be seen at 12:30 p.m. on NBC and heard live on WGR 550 with Brian Duff and Rob Ray on the call.


THE SABRES HAVE A NEW LEADING GOAL SCORER
And he probably wasn't many people's preseason pick. In fact, Sam Reinhart began the season as a bottom six-forward, alternating line rushes in practices and was without a concrete role in the Sabres' lineup. It was even unclear if he would be in the lineup on opening night prior to an injury to Brian Gionta.

Since then, he's established all sorts of roles. He's not only a mainstay on the top power-play unit, but he's tied with teammate Jack Eichel and Philadelphia's Shane Gostisbeher for the League's rookie lead with six power-play goals. He's also been referred to by Bylsma as Buffalo's best net-front presence multiple times.

On Friday, after he rushed in to clean up an Evander Kane rebound for his 18th goal of the season, he took on one more title: Sabres' leading scorer.

"I think it shows a lot to the support I've had," Reinhart said. "I think there's lots of guys in our locker room that can chip in, we have a lot of depth in that sense, and I think at any given time anyone can be a guy who puts the puck in the net."

A couple of Sabres are hot on his tail. Eichel and O'Reilly have 17 goals each, Kane has 16 and, after a two-goal performance on Friday, Jamie McGinn has 14. Eichel's on a particularly hot streak of his own, dishing two assists on Friday to extend his point-streak to four games (1+4) and giving him 27 points in his last 27 games (8+19).

"I don’t know what it is," Eichel said of his continued improvement. "I can probably say a lot of things. I think just my attitude has changed overall, I come to the rink a lot happier every day and I'm just trying to enjoy everything and that's what you should do."

For as much as the Sabres are willing to fight after a cheap shot on one of their defensemen, they're just as willing to fight in a less literal sense when it comes to winning hockey games. In spite of being 11 points out of a wild card spot, the Sabres have played some of their best hockey with a 3-0-1 record over their past four games.

"It says [something] about what we can do," Reinhart said. "I think we need to become more consistent with that, obviously we are fairly young but we want to start winning now and be successful in this League now. We're going to have to learn to keep that momentum going."

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