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Sharpen Up: April 3, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Another new Sabre could be in the lineup tonight as Buffalo has recalled forward Alexander Nylander from Rochester. The 2016 first-round pick could make his NHL debut against the Toronto Maple Leafs at KeyBank Center. 

Yesterday, C.J. Smith recorded an assist in his first career game, a 4-2 loss against the Islanders. So it's gearing up to be a memorable few days for some young players in the organization. 

Here's what you need to know. 

Nylander's brother William plays for Toronto, so if the storyline sounds familiar, you probably read some of our preseason coverage. However, this time, the stakes are obviously higher with it being a regular-season game, and with Toronto fighting for playoff positioning.  

In 62 games for the Amerks this season, Buffalo's Nylander leads all Rochester rookies with nine goals and 18 assists.

Earlier this season, Nylander represented Sweden at the World Junior Championship, where he was named to the tournament All-Star Team after tying for the tournament lead with 12 points (5+7) in seven games.

Other things you should know

The Sabres are 50-for-57 (87.7%) on the penalty kill in their last 22 games.

Evander Kane has nine points (7+2) in his last nine games against Toronto.

Jack Eichel has eight points (3+5) in six career games against the Maple Leafs.

Sam Reinhart has totaled four points (1+3) in four games against Toronto this season.

Tyler Ennis has 19 points (8+11) in 20 games against Toronto since the beginning of the 2011-12 season. 

The home team has won 24 of the last 29 games between the Sabres and the Maple Leafs.

The Sabres are 18-2-1 in their last 21 home games against the Maple Leafs. Toronto's win in Buffalo on Nov. 3, 2016 snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Sabres that lasted 1,373 days.

Each team has won a road game the series this season, marking the first time the Sabres and Maple Leafs have won in each other's arenas in the same season since 2012-13.

The Maple Leafs haven't won consecutive games in Buffalo since March 21 and Dec. 12, 2008.

(via @SabresPR)


Yesterday's highlights

Let's look back at Smith's assist, which turned out to be a pretty pass to set up Evander Kane. 

Video: NYI@BUF: Kane wrists home Smith's feed on two-on-one

Anders Lee scored twice in the third period to break a 2-2 tie and lift the Islanders over the Sabres. 

From the game recap…

It's an old cliché, but sometimes quality really is more important than quantity. That was certainly true on Sunday afternoon for the Buffalo Sabres, who out-chanced and outshot the New York Islanders at KeyBank Center only to fall by a score of 4-2. 

Ask Dan Bylsma, and he'll tell you that Joshua Ho-Sang's goal in the second period was a microcosm of the game. At one point in that period, shots were 15-1 in favor of the Sabres. Unfortunately for them, that one shot happened to be a breakaway for the Islanders' talented rookie.

"The rough count during the game, we had them at 10 chances, which would be our lowest in 30 games," Bylsma said. "The second period's kind of indicative of how the game went. We had 15 shots and they had one, but their one was a turnover and a breakaway that Ho-Sang scored on."

Here's some postgame reaction from the locker room

Video: BYLSMA: Postgame Interview vs. Islanders 

Video: Girgensons: Postgame Interview vs. NYI 

Video: Smith: Postgame Interview vs. NYI 

 Video: Lehner: Postgame Interview vs. NYI



RJ called yesterdays' game from the 300 Level. Here's how he called both Buffalo goals.

Video: RJ Cam: Two Goal Calls

On this day in Sabres history…

April 3, 1982: Gilbert Perreault records his 1,000th NHL point in a 5-4 win vs. Montreal. Perreault, who finished his Sabres career with 1,326 points, remains the only player to record 1,000 points for the club.


On tap today

We'll have full gameday coverage and we'll keep you updated on any lineup changes (as in: Is Nylander going to play tonight?).

Then stick around for the Tops Game Night pregame show starting at 6:30 p.m. on MSG. RJ and Rayzor have the call just after 7 and you can also listen live on WGR 550.

Today, we'll also have another edition of Kris Baker's Sabres Prospects Report as the seasons wind down for many players in the system. 

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