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Sharpen Up: February 6, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Another big game tonight. The Sabres look to build off their 4-0 win over Ottawa on Saturday with a match tonight against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

Here's what you need to know.


First some news of the day

The Sabres announced this morning that Justin Falk has signed a one-year contract extension worth $650,000. 

Since joining the Sabres as a free agent on July 1, the 6-foot-5, 222-pound defenseman from Snowflake, Manitoba has appeared in 35 games for the team, posting three assists and averaging 13:11 of ice time per game.

Weekend rewind

Lots to talk about from last game, including 37 saves from Robin Lehner to earn his first shutout of the season. He talked to Brian Duff and Brad May right after the game about his performance.

Video: Robin Lehner on the postgame show

Lehner is 5-1-1 with a .928 save percentage so far this calendar year.

On Sunday, Jourdon LaBarber took a look at how the defense fared now that Josh Gorges and Jake McCabe are both back from injury. They provided some much needed experience and physicality.  

"Georgie's a guy who's not afraid to go out there and block a shot, no matter who it is, and put his body on the line," defenseman Cody Franson said. "Caber's a lot of the same way. They both try to be very physical, they play hard along the walls and they do a good job of trying to take the middle of the ice away on teams. 

"When you have two guys like that who you can insert into your lineup, who keep the offensive players honest on the other team, I think it's a big help."

Marcus Foligno, who scored Buffalo's fourth goal, was also a factor for Buffalo.  

From the practice report:
Foligno's goal was his first in 11 games, but Sabres coach Dan Bylsma used Saturday as an example of how he's able to create offense without showing up on the score sheet.

Video: BYLSMA: After Practice

"In the first period last night he had five net fronts that were scoring chances for somebody else but a result of him going through, driving through and being at the net," the coach said. "That's a real big indicator of what he does provide for that line."

Brian Duff, meanwhile, chatted with Justin Bailey, who was called up from Rochester before Saturday's game. 

Video: Sabres in :90 (2/5/17)

Right now, Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo are looking for a left wing to stick on their line. Bailey, Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis are candidates to step up and fill that role.

"I'd like to see someone grab it," Bylsma said. " … I'd like one of those guys to grab a hold of that spot and not let it go."

Today's matchup

This is the third and final meeting between the Sabres and Devils this season. The Devils came away with a 4-2 victory on home ice over Buffalo in their last meeting back on Nov. 12. The Sabres are 4-3-3 in their last 10 trips to Prudential Center. 

And it wouldn't be a Sabres/Devil preview without some shootout talk.

With 12 shootouts in the 32 matchups since the beginning of 2007-08 season, the Sabres have played more shootouts against the Devils than any other non-divisional opponent, going 7-5 in those shootouts.

Eleven of the last 24 games between the Sabres and Devils have been settled in overtime or a shootout, including eight of the last 16.

(Thanks to Sabres PR for those tidbits) 


Showdown continues

We saw Ryan O'Reilly advance to Round 2 with a victory over Marcus Foligno and during tonight's broadcast, we'll see what happens when Jack Eichel goes head to head against Jake McCabe. 

For all of the matchups and video, visit


On tap today

No morning skate for the team so we'll have lineup news for you around 5 p.m. Then be sure to tune in to the TOPS Game Night pregame show starting at 6:30 on MSG. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. so join Dan and Rayzor then. You can also listen to the game on WGR 550. 

Stay on the lookout for Kris Baker's Sabres Prospects Report today too. 

The Sabres will then be right back at it tomorrow for a home game against San Jose at 7 p.m. It's also You Can Play Night and you can find out more about what will be happening here.  

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