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Kulikov back at practice, may join lineup this week

Plus, a brief oral history of Robin Lehner's save in Montreal.

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Jake McCabe remained absent from practice at HarborCenter on Monday, but the Buffalo Sabres did get some help on the left side of their defense. Dmitry Kulikov returned as a full participant after missing the last 12 games - and 26 total - with an injury to his lower back.

Bylsma said that Kulikov will travel with the team for their two-game road trip in Nashville and Dallas.

"He would've skated with us earlier if we had been home on the Montreal day (Saturday) or Sunday," Bylsma said. "He skated extremely hard those two days at home and back into practice today, full contact, so we'll see how he responds to that but it bodes well for seeing him sometime this week."

Kulikov skated on a pair with Taylor Fedun, while Nicolas Deslauriers - a former defenseman - participated in line drills on a pair with Casey Nelson. Here's how the full lineup looked on Monday:

63 Tyler Ennis - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
82 Marcus Foligno - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
9 Evander Kane - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 12 Brian Gionta
48 William Carrier- 19 Cal O'Reilly - 26 Matt Moulson

41 Justin Falk - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
47 Zach Bogosian - 6 Cody Franson
77 Dmitry Kulikov - 38 Taylor Fedun
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 34 Casey Nelson

40 Robin Lehner
31 Anders Nilsson

With McCabe, Kulikov and Josh Gorges out of the lineup on Saturday, the Sabres played with five right-shot defensemen in their lineup. That meant an increased role for players like Taylor Fedun, whom Brian Duff caught up with in Monday's Sabres in :90. 

Video: Sabres in :90 (1/23/17)

The Sabres have two games remaining prior to the All-Star break, with the first set for 8 p.m. in Nashville on Tuesday. Coverage begins with the Tops Pregame Show at 7:30 on MSG-B, or you can listen live on WGR 550. 


A brief oral history of the Lehner save

Video: BUF@MTL: Lehner dives to make game-saving glove stop

You've seen the play. You've watched it once, twice, 10 times since Saturday night; you've seen the traditional angle, then you watched it from behind the net, then you watched it from within the net. But nobody experienced Robin Lehner's overtime save in Montreal quite like Evander Kane and Rasmus Ristolainen, which is reason enough to revisit it one more time.

So, without further ado, here's a mini oral history of the save that made Rick Jeanneret proclaim he'd finally seen everything and the save from Carey Price that preceded it:

After tying the game at 2-2 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the third period, the Sabres found themselves in the offensive zone in the dwindling seconds of regulation. Jack Eichel, falling to the ice near the corner, slapped a one-handed pass to Kyle Okposo, who pushed the puck across to Rasmus Ristolainen.

Ristolainen took his shot alone from the right of the net with 6.6 seconds remaining, but Montreal's Carey Price reached up high with his glove and snagged the shot from point-blank range. Instead of a Sabres victory, the game went to overtime. 

Ristolainen: If you ask him, he'd probably say he saw me kind of looking glove side, I kind of gave it [away] and he knew the whole time I was going there. Gotta make a better play there and score.

Bylsma: The great glove save by Price was pretty amazing. I've seen the replay from behind. It looked like he reached up high Risto made a good shot, he makes an awesome glove save. The fans responded like I've never seen, I think, on a save from a goaltender.

Ristolainen was one of three players on the ice to begin overtime, and the Sabres quickly got pinned in their own zone. The Canadiens maintained possession while executing a change, and Alexander Radulov carried the puck into the slot before passing back to Alex Galchenyuk.

Ristolainen: We had a long shift there. They got new guys there and Radulov came with pretty fresh legs, kind of dangled. I went to the other side, tried to follow him. He made a pretty nice pass to the middle.

Lehner: Radulov did it twice to me … came across to center ice and kept me going with him and passed it back against the grain. He's a very good player. I was just fortunate I got back.

Galchenyuk took his shot, seemingly into an empty net, with 3:31 remaining in the overtime period. Lehner had trailed Radulov a bit, but was able to dive to his left and make the glove save. 

Evander Kane, attempting to block Galchenyuk's shot, was directly in front of the Sabre goaltender.

Kane: As you probably saw on my Instagram post my eyes were closed, so I didn't see much. I kind of just saw the puck go back towards the slot there. I saw they had a guy there. I tried to get in the way of it but I didn't feel it hit me, so I was kind of surprised.

When their horn wasn't going off, I was kind of surprised too. I looked back and saw Lenny lying there with his glove stretched above his head. He said, 'I got it.' I think he was a little surprised and so was I.

Bylsma: We had four guys on the bench that were like aghast, clamoring and cheering him on. I saw the same thing from Price's save. Their bench was the same way when he made that save at the end of the game.

Ristolainen: I didn't see it, I was looking at Radulov. I didn't know what happened behind me.
I was actually pretty gassed there so I just tried to find my way to the bench.  

After the save, the noise in the Montreal crowd didn't dissipate. 

Bylsma: I think the fans half-cheered for a goal. It was almost like it was in the back of the net and almost turned into a gasp of "He actually got his glove on it and made the save." I thought the fans actually gave him a little cheer for how awesome the glove save was.

Nineteen seconds after Lehner's save, Zach Bogosian blew a slap shot past Price for the overtime winner. 

Lehner: That is a great feeling. I really wanted to have a bounce-back game … We go into this building and we go into overtime and we win it. That's a great feeling.

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