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by Erin Pollina / Buffalo Sabres
Tim Connolly (Photo: Bill Wippert)
The Buffalo Sabres had one of their longer practices of the season on Monday afternoon.

The coaching staff held individual meetings, followed by off-ice workouts and a long video session before they hit the ice at HSBC Arena.

  Thomas Vanek: Audio | Video
  Lindy Ruff: Audio | Video
  Jason Pominville: Video
  Patrick Lalime: Audio | Video
  Ales Kotalik: Audio | Video

Players arrived at approximately 10 a.m. and did not leave practice until almost 3 p.m.

“It was a long day,” Jason Pominville said. “It was one of those days where we are trying to find ways to improve offensively.”

The Sabres have struggled to find the net in the last three games, registering only three goals in that span. They are also 3-5-2 in their last 10 games and sit just outside of the playoff picture with 69 points.

“We’ve scored basically one goal five-on-five in our last three games,” Pominville said. “Especially in the position that we’re in now, it’s not good enough. We have to be more desperate. It comes down to seeing video of what we’re doing and trying to work on it in practice.”

“A big part of it is that we’re trying to get a little too cute again,” Head Coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’re not getting enough pucks to the paint and it hasn’t led to quality opportunities.

“We’ve lost three games in a row so they know when they come in they can expect a variety of things. They probably weren’t expecting that long of a day, but that’s okay.”

In addition to routine, Ruff also shook the lines up Monday.

Thomas Vanek is expected to play for the first time since fracturing his jaw in early February. He practiced alongside Derek Roy and Drew Stafford.

The addition of Vanek moved Pominville to play alongside Paul Gaustad and Jochen Hecht while Matt Ellis anchored a line between Pat Kaleta and Dan Paille.

The remaining line consisted of Ales Kotalik, Tim Connolly and Maxim Afinogenov.

Afinogenov has not played since Jan. 3 after sustaining a groin injury.

“Max is a possibility,” Ruff said. “We got him through some good practices and evaluating his practices, whether he can make a difference. He is a definitely a possibility for playing.”

The Sabres next match-up is against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night, 7:30 p.m. at HSBC Arena.

“We’ve got to work hard and find ways to score goals,” Pominville said. “That’s what we did today is a lot of video and a lot of talking and a lot of different ways to create offense on the ice… Hopefully it pays off.”
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