The Buffalo Sabres power play had a little bit of a different look at practice Friday at HARBORCENTER. Defensemen Tyler Myers and Josh Gorges were given maintenance days so different personnel were used on the man advantage.
On the first unit with Chris Stewart, Zemgus Girgensons and Tyler Ennis, Matt Moulson joined Nikita Zadorov on the point. It’s a different position for Moulson and an option the team will likely use Saturday night against the Dallas Stars.
“We’re going to definitely look at it,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “We need an intelligent player back there making good plays. Breaking out is probably one of the most important parts of our power play and we haven’t been making great first passes lately. We’ll give it a try.”
Nolan said that both Myers and Gorges will be ready to play when Dallas comes to town for a 7 p.m. faceoff from First Niagara Center. The Tops Gamenight pregame show will begin at 6:30 p.m. on MSG-B and the game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
Zadorov was a healthy scratch for Buffalo’s game against St. Louis on Thursday and Nolan said the team will wait before deciding whether he’ll be back in the lineup or not.
Before being scratched, Zadorov had seen time on both power-play units. The second unit on Friday featured Drew Stafford, Brian Flynn and captain Brian Gionta up front with Andre Benoit and Andrej Meszaros at the points.
Gionta has eased back into the power play since he returned from injury on Jan. 27 and expects to be more involved in special teams play as the season progresses.
Buffalo has had trouble scoring goals this season and was shutout for the ninth time this season on Thursday. The Sabres are 1-4-0 in their four games since All-Star Weekend and are averaging just 1.6 goals per game.
While burying their chances has been an issue, Gionta feels that they’ll generate more offense if they’re able to quickly and more effectively get out of their own end.
“It’s not about the offensive zone. It’s about before that and we’ve got to do a better job as a team coming up together, supporting each other,” he said. “Once we get in the offensive zone, we’re all right. Once we get some sustained pressure, we’re all right. It’s just getting there.”
Michal Neuvirth may start one of Buffalo’s two games over the weekend. He hasn’t played since Jan. 17 and sustained a lower-body injury while working out on the ice during the All-Star Break. Friday marked his second practice with the team since the injury.
“I feel pretty good. It was a tough injury,” Neuvirth said. “I took a shot right to the ankle, a heavy shot from the slot, and couldn’t put my skate on for a few days. But, I’ve been working really hard on and off the ice and I’ve been feeling good the last couple days.”
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80 Chris Stewart – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
26 Matt Moulson – 17 Torrey Mitchell – 12 Brian Gionta
19 Cody Hodgson – 65 Brian Flynn – 21 Drew Stafford
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 37 Matt Ellis – 36 Patrick Kaleta
82 Marcus Foligno (non-contact)
61 Andre Benoit – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 24 Tyson Strachan
51 Nikita Zadorov – 41 Andrej Meszaros
1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth
Maintenance Day: 4 Josh Gorges, 57 Tyler Myers