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Sharpen Up: April 8, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

What's another back-to-back set to close out the season? Tonight's game opens up Buffalo's 19th of a league-high 19 sets of back-to-back games this season, which will conclude tomorrow night at Tampa Bay. 

Buffalo is in Florida tonight to take on the Panthers. The Tops Game Night pregame show begins at 6:30 p.m. on MSG. Stay tuned throughout the night for Fan Appreciation Goes Digital giveaways. You can also hear Dan and Rayzor's call on WGR 550 just after 7. 

Here's what you need to know.


Fan Appreciation Night Goes Digital details

Fans tuned in to MSG for the team's final two road games tonight and against the Tampa Bay Lightning tomorrow will have a chance to win prizes throughout both broadcasts when Fan Appreciation Night Goes Digital.

Registered My One Buffalo members will be able to access a form to enter the contest to win a variety of prizes including:

  • An overnight stay package from Buffalo Marriott HarborCenter
  • Two (2) round-trip tickets courtesy of Delta Air Lines
  • Four (4) 200 Club-level tickets for Sabres 2017-18 home opener
  • $200 Key Possibilities gift card, courtesy of KeyBank
  • (716) Food and Sport VIP Happy Hour for you and 11 guests
  • Sabres prize pack (including an autographed jersey, stick and puck)

To participate in this contest, fans can find a FAN Goes Digital tile under the My Tickets area of the app. 

Winners will be announced by Brian Duff during both intermissions and the postgame show on MSG.


On-ice stuff

Brian Duff caught up with Jake McCabe and Alexander Nylander after practice yesterday:

Video: Sabres in :90 (4/7/17)

And in other news

Marcus Foligno was absent from Friday's practice after missing the third period of Wednesday's game with a knee injury. Coach Dan Bylsma said it's a short-term injury (7-10 days) which means Foligno will not play in the final two games of the season. Foligno matched his career-high point total with 23 (13+10) and set career highs in goals and hits (273).

Video: BYLSMA: After Practice

Linus Ullmark has been recalled (again) from Rochester. It's the goaltender's seventh recall of the season, yet he has not made an on-ice appearance. He backed up Robin Lehner on Wednesday after Anders Nilsson was ruled out after being injured in Tuesday's practice. 

The Sabres are 8-7-3 in the first game of back-to-back sets and 6-11-1 in the second game so far this season. Buffalo's point breakdown in previous back-to-back sets this season is: four points (2), three points (2), two points (8), one point (2) and zero points (4).

The Panthers are one of only six NHL opponents that Jack Eichel has not yet recorded a goal against. 

In the time since his Nov. 29 return from an injury that sidelined him for 21 games, Eichel is tied for seventh among all NHL skaters with 57 points (24+33) and leads the league with 241 shots on goal.

He has logged 42 points (16+26) in his last 38 games, including 12 multi-point outings during that stretch. The Sabres are 14-2-0 this season (and 22-5-1 in his career) when he has at least two points. 

And his .97 points per game rank him ninth among all players with at least 20 games played this season.


More Game Notes...

After going 4-9-3 in their first 16 games against Atlantic Division opponents this season, the Sabres are 9-2-1 in their last 12.

The Sabres are 53-for-61 (86.9%) on the penalty kill in their last 24 games.

A win tonight would give the Sabres consecutive wins against the Panthers for the first time since they won three in a row from Feb. 10 to Oct. 29, 2011. Buffalo hasn't won three games against Florida in a season since 2009-10.

Ryan O'Reilly has 15 points (6+9) in his last 13 games against the Panthers, including points in 11 of those contests and four two-point games.

Evander Kane has 16 points (11+5) in his last 16 games against Florida.

Sam Reinhart has eight points (5+3) in his last six games against the Panthers.

Jack Eichel has four assists in his last four games against Florida.

Brian Gionta has a point in each of his last three games against the Panthers (1+2).

New BBG tomorrow

Our season finale of Beyond Blue and Gold will debut tomorrow during the first intermission. We followed Gionta and his wife Harvest around as he celebrated his 1, 000th NHL game - which, as you'll see is as much a personal achievement as it is one for his entire family.

Here's a sneak peek:

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Family man. Pro hockey player.The spotlight's on Brian #G1000nta in our final #BeyondBlueAndGold, by @NewEraCap. Sunday, 1st intermission!

(Reminder, it's a 5 p.m. puck drop tomorrow.)

On tap today

We'll have full Morning Skate coverage for you today from Sunrise, Fla. Duffer and Jourdon LaBarber are on the scene. Then stick with us for the pregame show at 6:30 p.m. and full postgame coverage here at
And then we'll be right back at it with tomorrow's season finale in Tampa. The pregame show starts at 4:30. But don't worry. We'll have a final game-day edition of Sharpen Up for you in the morning.  

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