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Sharpen Up: April 4, 2019

Here's what you need to know ahead of Fan Appreciation Night presented by ADPRO Sports

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

The Sabres will play their final home game of the season tonight. The Ottawa Senators are in town and it's also Fan Appreciation Night presented by ADPRO Sports. 

Join us at KeyBank Center or tune in to the GMC Game Night pregame show starting at 6:30 p.m. on MSG. Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on MSG and WGR 550.

Here's what you need to know.


Fan Appreciation Night details


As part of giveaways at tonight's game, which is presented by ADPRO Sports, KeyBank will provide every fan in attendance with a Jack Eichel bobblehead as they enter the arena.

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Make sure you're here tomorrow to get your Eichel bobblehead presented by @KeyBank: the front entrance doors along Perry Street will be closed for those entering the game via street-level!

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Add Captain Jack to your bobblehead collection April 4!Presented by @KeyBank.

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 during 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.

Tonight's matchup

From the Game Notes…

  • This is the fourth and final meeting between the Sabres and Senators this season.
  • Last meeting: Ottawa defeated Buffalo 4-0 in Ottawa on March 26
  • The Sabres are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Senators; 6-3-1 at home.


  • The Sabres have gone 9-3-3 in their last 15 games against the Senators and have a 10-4-4 record in their last 18 meetings in Buffalo.


  • Jack Eichel has recorded 16 points (4+12) in 12 career games against the Senators, including at least a point in all but two of those games and eight points (1+7) in six home games. His 1.33 points per game against the Senators represent his highest per-game output against any Eastern Conference opponent.


  • Sam Reinhart has posted 12 points (5+7) in his last 13 games against the Senators.
  • Jason Pominville and Jeff Skinner have both totaled four points (3+1) in three meetings with the Senators so far this season.
  • Casey Mittelstadt has recorded three points (1+2) in two career home games against Ottawa.


  • With his assist on Tuesday vs. Nashville, Rasmus Ristolainen (5+35) has turned in his fourth consecutive season featuring at least 40 points.
  • He has become just the third defenseman in Sabres history to record 40 points in at least four consecutive seasons, joining Phil Housley and Jerry Korab.
  • Now in his sixth season with the Sabres, Ristolainen ranks ninth all-time among Sabres defensemen in both assists (155) and points (191).
  • Ristolainen's 26 even-strength points this season (4+22) surpassed his previous single-season high of 20 set in the 2015-16 season.
  • Ristolainen has recorded an assist in both of his first two meetings with Ottawa this season and has 10 assists in his last 12 games against the Senators.


Wednesday's practice

From the Ice Level Practice Report, which took a closer look at the defensive pairing of Jake McCabe and Brandon Montour…  

Jake McCabe protected the puck from Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson along the end boards in his own zone, biding time until his defense partner arrived for support. He passed it to Brandon Montour, who drew the forecheck in the opposite direction before reversing the puck back to McCabe. 

By the time McCabe delivered his breakout pass to Jack Eichel, Montour was already speeding across the defensive blue line as an extra means of neutral-zone support.

It was the sort of shift that set the tone for the defensive duo of McCabe and Montour, who seemed to provide a perfect blend of speed and physicality against the Predators on Tuesday night. 

McCabe and Montour were matched up heavily with Nashville's top line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Victor Arvidsson, yet the Sabres outscored the Predators 1-0 with that duo on the ice at even strength. Scoring chances were 8-6 in Buffalo's favor with the pair on the ice at even strength despite them not starting any of their shifts in the offensive zone, according to

"I thought we handled them pretty well," McCabe said. "I thought we limited their opportunities. Monty's a hell of a player. He's really fun to play with, really easy to play with. He does a great job talking to me out there, supporting me all over the ice, and he just really attacks the game. He throws his body around and just all facets of his game are really fun to play with."

You can read the full report here.

The Sabres also assigned William Borgen to the Rochester Americans. Borgen made his NHL debut on March 26. The Amerks have two games against the first-place Syracuse Crunch this weekend.

Okposo offers advice to youth hockey player

Tweet from @NHLdotcom: "A man in the NHL really told me some nice advice, and it's going to stick with me."Roshaun Brown-Hall endured racist taunting on the ice, but Kyle Okposo and the @BuffaloSabres were there to lift his spirits, writes @WDouglasNHL


Kyle Okposo wanted a moment alone with Roshaun Brown-Hall.

After the pictures were taken and the meet and greet was over Tuesday, the Buffalo Sabres forward and the 17-year-old Buffalo-area youth hockey player walked down a hall inside KeyBank Center and talked about what it's like being targeted on the ice because of the color of their skin.

"A pretty heavy conversation for somebody that you just met," Okposo said Wednesday. "Seventeen years old, starting in life, but I just tried to give him a little bit of insight, and if he needs anything down the road, he knows how to contact me." 

Brown-Hall and his family were guests of the Sabres at their game against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. The Sabres gave them tickets to center Jack Eichel's suite after team officials saw news accounts of Brown-Hall enduring racial taunts and slurs during a game between his Amherst Youth Hockey under-18 team and a team from Cheektowaga, New York, on Jan. 20.

Cheektowaga players were shown on video making monkey sounds and gestures toward Brown-Hall, and one player could be heard using a racial slur.

Brown-Hall was excited about attending the game Tuesday, even though the Predators won 3-2. He said meeting Okposo and having a candid conversation with him about hockey and race was the highlight of the night.

"He basically told me don't let those kids put me down, they're not worth my time," Brown-Hall said. "A man in the NHL really told me some nice advice, and it's going to stick with me."

You can read the full story here.

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