While the Buffalo Sabres have made progress by earning points in five of their last six games, the fact remains that they've also left points on the table. The Sabres have lost three of those games in overtime, bringing their overtime record this season to 1-6.
With that in mind, practice at KeyBank Center on Sunday morning ended with the team working to hammer out some details in 3-on-3 play.
"It's having more control once we get the puck, not throwing it away or trying anything to high-risk," alternate captain Ryan O'Reilly said. "We want to keep our motion up because obviously those are points we can get and it hasn't been good enough."
Video: Sabres Now (12/17/17)
In addition to the focus on possession, coach Phil Housley said the drill was about recognizing defensive responsibilities. On 2-on-1 rushes, for example, Housley wants the third man to remain high and provide safety in the event of a missed shot or a carom that results in a rush coming back.
On top of the instructional value, the drill also provided a chance for players to gain confidence simply by scoring goals in the 3-on-3 setting. The Sabres have had chances to win games in overtime but haven't cashed in, with the most recent example being Evander Kane's breakaway on Friday.
Housley said that he and his coaching staff have given thought to changing personnel in overtime, but it's those types of chances that have made him weary of doing anything too drastic.
"It's great to see," Housley said. "Obviously we've had opportunities to win games. It just hasn't happened for us. Any time the guys who have gotten the opportunities cans core, it's good for their confidence."
Video: HOUSLEY: After Practice
Overtime results aside, the Sabres have been trending in the right direction during their current 2-1-3 stretch. They've had a chance to win every game, with their lone regulation loss coming by a score of 2-1 in Philadelphia on Thursday.
"We're right there to win that game and even the last few we've played, we've been right in it to the very end," O'Reilly said. "It's just small little details and tiny little things that are affecting us. I think before, when we were kind of in our big rut there, it wasn't much we were doing right. Right now I think there are some staples of our game that we've been doing really well."
Josefson hopes to return this week
Jacob Josefson took another step forward in his recovery from an ankle injury, practicing on a line with Evan Rodrigues and Jordan Nolan. Josefson said he hopes to return to the lineup at some point this week, and Housley said he'll be reevaluated on Monday.
Josefson's ankle has forced him to miss a total of 24 games this season. He returned from a 15-game absence on Nov. 22, but reinjured the ankle in Montreal two games later. The Sabres have been treating the injury with caution to avoid any additional missed time.
Josefson said the ankle feels strong, and the thought of re-injury no longer weighs on his mind.
"It was at first when I started skating," he said. "But I skated by myself for a little bit more than a week, around a week, and then had a couple of morning skates and stuff like that too … I've been more and more comfortable and now I don't really think about it out there."
Lines at practice
9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 29 Jason Pominville
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
17 Jordan Nolan - 10 Jacob Josefson - 71 Evan Rodrigues
6 Marco Scandella - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
82 Nathan Beaulieu - 47 Zach Bogosian
19 Jake McCabe - 93 Victor Antipin
4 Josh Gorges - 41 Justin Falk
40 Robin Lehner
31 Chad Johnson