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Sharpen Up: April 3, 2019

Here's what you need to know on Wednesday

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak / Sabres.com

The Sabres will return to practice today following last night's 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on home ice. A few calls didn't go the Sabres way and they'll look to shake that off as they prepare for the final home game of the regular season.

Buffalo will host Ottawa tomorrow for Fan Appreciation Night presented by ADPRO Sports. The season concludes Saturday night in Detroit.

Here's what you need to know.

 

About last night

Video: BUF Recap: Okposo, Skinner score in 3-2 loss to Preds

From the Lexus Postgame Report…

Phil Housley did not mince words regarding the officiating in a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night, a game that included two controversial calls against the Sabres.

The Sabres appeared to have tied the game, 2-2, early in the second period after Jack Eichel drove to the net and passed to Sam Reinhart, drawing a hooking call against Ryan Johansen in the process. Reinhart shot off the pad of goalie Pekka Rinne and Conor Sheary buried the rebound into an open net. 

The referee blew the play dead, however, when Reinhart's shot made contact with Rinne's pad. The goal was waved off, and though the Sabres did eventually tie the game in the final minute of the period, the play stood out to their coach as a turning point afterward. 

"It's frustrating because we got screwed," Housley said. "… The call that's sort of mind-boggling to me in the delayed penalty call. The ref's sitting right in the corner. It's unfortunate because of what we've been through. Guys played hard tonight, and they get screwed."

The contest began with another borderline call, when Nashville's first goal appeared to go in off the shaft of Craig Smith's stick as he raised it above the cross bar. The goal stood upon video review, with officials ruling that there was no conclusive evidence that the puck made contact with Smith's stick.

Kyle Okposo and Jeff Skinner scored goals for the Sabres, who saw their winless streak extend to eight games. Carter Hutton made 32 saves. 

Video: POSTGAME: Housley

Video: POSTGAME: Skinner

Video: POSTGAME: Okposo 

Video: POSTGAME: Hutton

While they did have to calls go against them, the Sabres pointed to other missed areas of opportunity after the loss. They went 0-for-3 against the Predators' sixth-ranked penalty kill, including a four-minute power play in the second period. Hutton also felt his counterpart could have seen more traffic. 

"At the end of the day, I don't know, I just think we made it pretty easy on him over there," Hutton said. "He's a pretty good goalie. When he can see it, he's going to stop it.

"… I'm not really looking for moral victories right now, we got to win hockey games. It's frustrating at this time of the year, you know what I mean? We just got to find ways to win."

The Sabres have one more chance to win at home, against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. They'll look to play with the same intensity they brought against Nashville and hope for a better result.

"We talked about these last two home games, and the guys brought it tonight, and we need that emotion and we need that passion on Thursday," Housley said. 

"They should be pissed off. We're all pissed off. But we have to, again, garner that and bring that same effort, because if we play like that, we're going to win. It's just unfortunate that we do play like that and we get screwed."

Click here to read the full recap. 

 

Postgame notes

Courtesy of @SabresPR…

  • With his 38th goal of the season, Jeff Skinner set a new single-season career high. He also tied Gilbert Perreault (1970-71) and Ray Sheppard (1987-88) for the third-most goals scored by a first-year Sabre.
  • His 30 even-strength goals are already the most ever recorded by player in his first year with the Sabres.
  • Skinner is now two points from tying his career high of 63 set as a rookie in 2010-11 and matched in 2016-17.

 

  • Jack Eichel set a new career high with 26:14 of ice time, topping his previous high of 25:57. Eichel's previous career high in a game that ended in regulation was 25:45 (Oct. 6, 2018 vs. NYR).

 

  • With his assist on Okposo's goal, Rasmus Ristolainen has totaled 40 points (5+35) this season.
  • Ristolainen becomes just the third defenseman in Sabres history to record 40 points in at least four consecutive seasons, joining Phil Housley and Jerry Korab.

 

  • Evan Rodrigues recorded his 19th and 20th assists of the season, surpassing his previous single-season high of 18.

 

New episode of SCARS

Former goaltender Daren Puppa looks back at his arm injury from 1989:

Video: SCARS: Daren Puppa


    Fan Appreciation Night is tomorrow

    For the regular-season home finale against the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night, the Sabres will host Fan Appreciation Night presented by ADPRO Sports. As part of giveaways at the game, KeyBank will provide every fan in attendance with a Jack Eichel bobblehead as they enter the arena.  

    Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Add Captain Jack to your bobblehead collection April 4!Presented by @KeyBank. pic.twitter.com/BZFanK8O5C

    Prior to the start of the game, Labatt will be hosting a pregame happy hour from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Labatt Blue Zone. Labatt giveaways and drink specials will be available to fans in attendance. The Tim Britt Band will provide live music throughout the event. 

    Other team sponsors will be providing additional prizes for lucky row and section giveaways, T-shirt toss and more, including KeyBank, Perry's Ice Cream, Niagara University, Moe's Southwest Grill, Eaton Office Supply, La Nova Pizzeria, Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, New Era Cap and Supercuts. Additionally, there will be a 50/50 guaranteed jackpot of $40,000.

    The fan-favorite Jersey Off My Back promotion will also make its return to Fan Appreciation Night in 2019, with Sabres players presenting their game-worn jerseys to select season ticket holders after the game.

    The winner of the Fan of the Year Award, presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, will be part of a ceremonial faceoff prior to the game. Winners of this season's player awards will also be announced throughout the game. Awards will include Sabres Foundation Man of the Year presented by Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Unsung Hero presented by Labatt, Rookie of the Year presented by Fallsview Casino Resort and Most Valuable Player presented by KeyBank. 

    During the game, season ticket holders will receive an additional $2 off their season ticket holder concession pricing and all fans will be able to purchase hot dogs, soft pretzels, popcorn and soda for just $3 each. Additionally, the Sabres Store will be giving all fans 30 percent off their entire purchase during the game.
     

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