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Sharpen Up: All the Sabres news you need to know on January 28, 2020

Buffalo plays Ottawa tonight at KeyBank Center

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

The Sabres are back in action on home ice tonight. They'll play the Senators at 7 p.m. Pregame coverage starts at 6:30 on MSG. 

Tonight's game kicks off a 20-day stretch during which the Sabres will play nine of 10 games at home. The lone road game during that span will take place on Feb. 7 when they face the Rangers.

Jeff Skinner is set to make his return from injury. He's missed the last 10 games.

Here's what you need to know.


Tonight's matchup

From @SabresPR's Game Notes...

  • This is the third of four meetings between the Sabres and Senators this season.
  • Last meeting: Ottawa defeated Buffalo 3-1 in Ottawa on Dec. 23, 2019.
  • Next meeting: Tuesday, Feb. 12 in Ottawa
  • The Sabres are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Senators; 6-3-1 at home.


  • The Sabres have gone 11-4-3 in their last 18 games against the Senators and have a 12-4-4 record in the teams' last 20 meetings in Buffalo.


  • With a win today, the Sabres would have wins in four straight home games against the Senators for the first time since they beat Ottawa in seven straight home games from Feb. 3, 2000 to March 19, 2002.
  • The home team has won each of the six meetings between these teams since the beginning of last season.


  • Jack Eichel has recorded 23 points (9+14) in 15 career games against the Senators, including at least a point in all but three of those games and 15 points (6+9) in eight home games. His 23 points and 1.53 points per game against the Senators represent his best outputs against any NHL opponent.


  • Sam Reinhart has totaled 16 points (6+10) in his last 16 meetings with the Senators, including two-point games in the last three meetings at KeyBank Center.


  • Michael Frolik has three assists in three meetings with the Senators since the beginning of last season.


  • Rasmus Dahlin has recorded an assist in each of his three career home matchups with Ottawa.


  • Linus Ullmark is 2-1-0 in three career appearances against the Senators, logging a .926 save percentage and a 2.02 goals-against average in those games.

Tickets for the game are on sale now.

Monday's practice

Video: Monday's practice report

From the Ice Level Practice Report…

The Buffalo Sabres have 33 games remaining with 10 points separating them from both third place in the Atlantic Division and the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. They play nine of their next 10 games at home, beginning against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. 

It's a prime opportunity to re-enter the playoff picture. With two practices now under their belt following a week off, Ralph Krueger likes his team's mindset.

"There's going to be some good battles ahead," Krueger said. "This group looks battle ready to be and feels battle ready and you can feel a freshness that's channeled down the right path right now, so may we turn that into some good hockey here."

Video: AFTER PRACTICE: Ralph Krueger

The Sabres are 14-5-3 at KeyBank Center this season. They made it an early goal to establish their home rink as a difficult place to play, something they feel they've accomplished to date. 

"I have to say that what we feel is a real comfort here playing in front of our home crowd and playing in our building," Krueger said. "We made it a goal this year to make it a difficult place to play in and we believe it is that and we need to feed on that and make sure we don't get comfortable being at home, either. 

"Sometimes flipflopping between road and home games makes it more fun to be at home. You should never take it for granted to be in front of your home crowd and we will not do it during this stretch. It is an opportunity that we all know will decide which direction this season goes, and we need to jump and be an outstanding home team here for the next few weeks."

Click here for the full report.  

Remembering Kobe Bryant

From our story on… 

Kyle Okposo once stepped into a hotel elevator and had an experience he would never forget. Even for a professional athlete, just being in a room with Kobe Bryant was special. 

"I didn't say anything to him, but he just had that presence about him," Okposo said inside the Sabres' dressing room Monday. "When he was in the same room, you knew."

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among the nine victims of a helicopter crash that occurred in Calabasas, Calif. on Sunday. Like Kobe himself, the news transcended basketball. The soccer star, Neymar, dedicated a goal in his honor. Chants of his name were heard at the NFL's Pro Bowl. In Montreal, a somber Alex Ovechkin reflected on their interactions. 

Count members of the Sabres among those who found inspiration in Bryant's life and grief in his passing. Jack Eichel wrote in an open letter following his recovery from a high-ankle sprain in 2016 about the motivation he felt watching the documentary Muse, which detailed Bryant's comeback from a ruptured Achilles' tendon at age 34.

The Sabres captain found himself revisiting that inspiration after practice on Monday.

"It's obviously kind of on the back end of his career and I just look at the way that he rehabbed himself, the way that he worked, the way that he did everything to get himself back to play again and even though their team wasn't great, I thought it was motivational for somebody who's done so much just to feel like he had more to prove and he had so much more to give," Eichel said.

Read the full story here.

Cap of Hope 2020 is now available

Video: Cap of Hope 2020 now on sale

Today in Sabres history

2000: Martin Biron turns aside 21 shots and James Patrick scores the game-winner as the Sabres earn a 1-0 victory against Ottawa.

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