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Sharpen Up: March 11, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

The Sabres and Blue Jackets played last night at Nationwide Arena in a hard-fought game that saw Columbus score late in the third period to win 4-3. They'll be back at it again in Buffalo tonight for a 7 p.m. faceoff at KeyBank Center as the first home-and-home series between the two clubs concludes.

We'll be on the air at 6:30 p.m. with the Tops Game Night pregame show on MSG. You can also listen to the game live on WGR 550 when the action gets underway just after 7 p.m. 

Here's what you need to know.

Video: BUF Recap: Sabres allow late goal to fall to Jackets

"The time for learning lessons is past us," alternate captain Josh Gorges said after the game. "Winning games, that's all that matters, that's all that should matter. 

Video: GORGES: Postgame Interview

"I said this after the last game, it doesn't matter if you play an ugly game when you get two points. That's the job. And it doesn't matter if you play a good game and you fall short, you didn't get the job done. Tonight was that way."

 Gorges, Rasmus Ristolainen and Evan Rodrigues were your goal scorers last night. Robin Lehner was credited with 35 saves in the loss. Check out our game recap for more.

Video: FRANSON: Postgame Interview

"I thought we did a lot of good things in that game," defenseman Cody Franson said. "It's unfortunate that it comes down to that last goal, the way it was. It's a mishandled play on my part. It's not like I was trying to do something cute with it or something out of the ordinary. I was trying to keep it simple, just couldn't get a handle on it."

Video: BYLSMA: Postgame Interview

"It had the feeling of just us letting it slip away," coach Dan Bylsma said. "Every time they get an opportunity they got it. We played a hard game, battled hard in this game and did a lot of good things but come up on the short end."

Video: RODRIGUES: Postgame Interview

Tonight's game wraps up Buffalo's 14th of a league-high 19 sets of back-to-back games this season, which began last night with the loss at Columbus.

The Sabres are 6-5-3 in the first game of back-to-back sets and 4-8-1 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 (4), one point (2) and zero points (3).

The Sabres have earned just one point in their last four games and are 1-5-2 since coming out of the bye week and have lost eight of their last nine. 

Buffalo will not hold a morning skate today so check back later this afternoon for Bylsma's pregame comments.


Who to watch tonight

Jack Eichel's career-long 11-game point streak came to an end last night as he was unable to get himself on the scoresheet. However, Eichel has not gone two games without a point since Jan. 31 and Feb. 2. In the 18 games since, he's totaled 24 points (6+18).

Eichel is also one of a few Sabres who have put up good numbers on home ice. 

Evander Kane has 20 points (12+8) in his last 22 games, including 10 goals in his last 15.

Rasmus Ristolainen has a point in 13 of his last 18 games (2+11).

Ryan O'Reilly has recorded seven points (3+4) in his last six games.

Equipment Drive begins today

The Buffalo Sabres Green Team is holding a hockey equipment drive at KeyBank Center, running now until Friday, March 31. All equipment donated will benefit Hasek's Heroes.

A Green Team collection net will be located outside the Sabres Store throughout the duration of the drive. Anyone who donates equipment will receive a coupon for 30 percent off at the Sabres Store.

Click here for more details.

On tap today

We'll have full game night coverage for you as the evening rolls along. Then stick around after the game for full postgame reaction and highlights. 

And during the first intermission, the highly anticipated new episode of Beyond Blue and Gold will premiere on MSG as we go inside the Ottawa Brawl Game that happened 10 years ago. It'll run the length of the intermission, commercial free. It's a big one.

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Even the scenes that didn't make the final cut are gold. ��Watch #TheBrawlBBG during tomorrow's 1st int., commercial free! @NewEraCap

If you're going to the game tonight, don't worry: We'll have the full episode posted here at

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