GLENDALE, ARIZONA – The Buffalo Sabres came away pleased with their third-period effort Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche, but disappointed that they weren’t able to generate that energy sooner. Buffalo fell behind 4-0 after two and scored three goals in the third, ultimately losing 5-3 at Pepsi Center. They outshot the Avalanche 38-22.
The Sabres held a team meeting and an optional skate at Gila River Arena on Sunday to prepare for their game Monday night against the Arizona Coyotes and hope for an effort that spans 60 minutes.
The Tops Game Night pregame show will begin at 9:30 p.m. EST with faceoff scheduled for 10 p.m. EST on MSG-B and Bell. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
“We had a video session here today to talk about some of the things we did last night. I think that was one of the most chances per games that we played almost all season long,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.
“It's one of the first times we've outshot a team by that large of a margin. Overall, outside of that first little bit where we made a couple costly mistakes, I thought it was a pretty good effort.”
Leading scorer Tyler Ennis missed Saturday’s game due to an upper-body injury sustained Thursday and while he made the trip, his status for Monday remains up in the air. He did take the ice on Sunday.
“I’m feeling better each day,” Ennis said. “We’ll see what tomorrow brings. I just wanted to get out there, feel the ice skate around, work on some skills.”
Nolan said they'll make sure Ennis is 100 percent ready before putting him back in the lineup.
With Ennis out against Colorado, the defensive corps picked up the offensive slack. Andrej Meszaros scored twice and Rasmus Ristolainen also tallied.
With a goal and an assist Saturday, Ristolainen has now scored in back-to-back games for the first time in his career and has five points (3+2) in his past seven games.
In addition to playing big minutes against the opposing team’s top lines, Buffalo’s top pick (eighth overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft has taken a fancy to jumping into the play and generating offense.
“I’m a two-way guy. I like to play both ends and I really enjoy playing an offensive role,” he said after the game. “I’ll try to keep going on both ends.”
This season, he has seven goals and nine assists in 72 games. Among healthy players still on the team, he’s second on the team in ice time, averaging 20:25 per game, although his minutes have increased as his role continues to expand.
“His overall maturity, his confidence with the puck, the toe drag that he's doing, the patience he's having with the puck, especially on the power play,” Nolan said. “He set up Matty Moulson a couple of games ago in overtime in 4-on-4 where I thought it was a very experienced play by a young guy. He came down and made a great play. So his growth is going [up] by leaps and bounds right now which is a great sign going into next season.”