The good news for the Sabres is that they gained a point in the Eastern Conference playoff race following a 4-3 overtime loss to Nashville on Sunday and now lead Carolina by three points in the battle for the final slot. The bad news is that they were 1:27 from wrapping up one more point that would have left them four points up on ninth place Carolina with 10 games to play. Now, they will look to move on and continue their quest for a playoff berth.
Before the Sabres returned to the ice for practice at HSBC Arena on Monday, they first met to watch video and discuss what went wrong against the Predators and how they can improve when they play at Montreal on Tuesday for the final meeting of the season between the Northeast Division rivals.
“You just own up to it,” said goaltender Ryan Miller
, who stopped two breakaways plus a penalty shot against Nashville. “It was a bad stretch of hockey there in the last five minutes for everybody, including myself. A couple tough breaks, but you want to get a hold of them. You come to the rink and you go over it. You work on something and try to improve yourself.”
Lindy Ruff acknowledged that mistakes led to Nashville scoring twice in the final two-and-a-half minutes of regulation and again in the first minute of overtime.
“We can’t get it back, so you move on. I think it’s another test to try to make us stronger,” Ruff said. “They realized that they put all the work in and to give it away, to make the mistakes we made, was unacceptable. They know that. Mistakes are part of the game, but we try to take a lot of pride in being a smarter team. We made a couple mistakes that we just don’t want to make again.”
“That’s one of those where, coming down the stretch, you’d better get it out of the way now rather than later,” said Jordan Leopold
. “We’ll learn from that one, definitely button up a little bit in the last four, five minutes of a game… The way we lost that one last night was frustrating but we’ll leave it in the past.”Miller Meets Hasek:
Two of the most decorated goaltenders in Sabres history met after Buffalo’s victory over Atlanta on Saturday night when Dominik Hasek visited the Sabres’ dressing room and spent several minutes chatting with Miller.
“It was my first chance (to meet Hasek). It was really cool,” Miller said. “I really looked up to him when he played here in North America and I haven’t had the chance to watch him as he moved over to Russia. I think it’s amazing he’s still playing. He looks like he’s in great shape. He’s truly one of the greatest goalies ever and to get a chance to spend a few minutes with him was nice.” Gaustad Line Clicking:
The line of Mark Mancari (1-3-4), Paul Gaustad (0-1-1) and Nathan Gerbe
(2-1-3) combined for eight points in two games this weekend, and Ruff likes what he’s seen from the trio lately, particularly with Mancari gaining confidence as he gets more and more ice time.
“In Mark’s case, and I said it (Saturday), that the goals will come. He’s got himself in on some chances,” Ruff said. “I think that line playing together has formed some chemistry, has played really well for us.”
Mancari notched a career-high three points in the Atlanta game before adding an assist on Sunday. Gerbe, meanwhile, scored a goal in both games. After scoring just once in Buffalo’s first 41 games of the season, Gerbe has scored 10 times in the last 31 team games.
Two of the injured Sabres spent time on the ice Monday as Steve Montador (lower body) and Patrick Lalime (knee) skated on their own before the rest of the team practiced. Montador stayed on with the team briefly before heading to the dressing room. While Lalime was on the ice for the first time since injuring his knee, no timetable has been put on his return. Montador remains day-to-day, according to Ruff.
Ruff also said that Jochen Hecht
is improving from his upper body injury, while Patrick Kaleta
continues to recover from a severe bone bruise in his leg.
“Jochen is doing better. He had a fitness (bike) ride today and we hope to get him back on the ice. We may see him by the weekend,” Ruff said.