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Sharpen Up: March 27, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

The Buffalo Sabres will take on the Florida Panthers tonight as captain Brian Gionta is set to become the 312th player in NHL history to skate in his 1,000th NHL game.

If you're coming to the game, make sure you're in your seats early for a special pregame ceremony. Faceoff is slated for just after 7 p.m. and we'll also be on the air starting at 6:30 on MSG with the Tops Game Night pregame show. 

Here's what you need to know.



Gionta made his NHL debut on Dec. 30, 2001 with the New Jersey Devils. He won the Stanley Cup in his rookie year and has gone on captain both the Montreal Canadiens and the Sabres.

Our PR team compiled this little nuggets that we hope you find just as interesting as we do:

Gionta will also become the 43rd American player to reach the milestone and will be the 10th player to appear in his 1,000th game as a member of the Sabres.

Other players to appear in their 1,000th NHL game as a member of the Sabres:

Dick Duff - March 7, 1971 vs. Toronto
Gilbert Perreault - Jan. 29, 1984 vs. Pittsburgh
Craig Ramsay - Oct. 28, 1984 vs Calgary
Don Lever - Jan. 27, 1986 at Montreal
Phil Russell - March 12, 1986 at Chicago
Dale Hawerchuk   Feb. 4, 1995 at Florida
Charlie Huddy - March 8, 1996 at Anaheim
James Patrick - Dec. 4, 1999 vs. NY Rangers
Mike Grier - Nov. 3, 2010 vs. Boston

Gionta's Career Breakdown

Games played for New Jersey - 473 (2001-02 to 2008-09)
Games played for Montreal - 303 (2009-10 to 2013-14)
Games played for Buffalo - 224* (2014-15 to Present)
1st NHL Game - 12/30/2001 at Edmonton (with New Jersey)
500th NHL Game - 1/14/2010 vs. Dallas (with Montreal)
1,000th NHL Game - 3/27/2017 vs. Florida* (with Buffalo)


Facts from the day of Gionta's first NHL game (Dec. 30, 2001)

No. 1 Song: "How You Remind Me" by Nickelback
No. 1 Album: "Weathered" by Creed
No. 1 Movie: "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"
Top-Selling Holiday Toy: Bratz Dolls
NFL Results: Alex Van Pelt led the Buffalo Bills to a 14-9 win over Vinny Testaverde and the New York Jets.

The first 12,000 fans in attendance tonight will receive one of these rally towels. Twelve of those fans will find that their towel has been autographed by Gionta. 

The pregame ceremony will air on the broadcast and isn't something you should miss. There will also be other video tributes in-arena throughout the night. 

And be on the lookout for a written feature looking back on Gionta's career as well that should serve as a nice afternoon read. We talked to current teammates, former teammates, friends and family for the piece. 

Let's look back at Saturday

Video: Eichel, Ennis push Sabres past Maple Leafs, 5-2

The Sabres took it to Toronto on Saturday, winning 5-2 at KeyBank Center. Jack Eichel led the way with two goals and an assist. 

 Video: Postgame Show: Jack Eichel

That was a fun one.

Dmitry Kulikov and Tyler Ennis had what was likely their best games of the season and Jourdon LaBarber caught up with them for yesterday's Ice Level Practice Report. 

Video: BYLSMA: After Practice 


And let's talk about tonight

  • Ryan O'Reilly has 14 points (5+9) in his last 12 games against the Panthers, including points in 10 of those contests and four two-point games.
  • Sam Reinhart has seven points (5+2) in his last five games against Florida, including two points in each of his last three.
  • Evander Kane has 16 points (11+5) in his last 15 games against the Panthers.
  • The Panthers are one of only six NHL teams (excluding the Sabres) that Jack Eichel has not yet recorded a goal against.


On tap today

Pregame coverage is coming your way soon as the Sabres get set to take the Morning Skate. We'll have all of your postgame coverage here too. 

Kris Baker will also have his weekly Sabres Prospects Report and will have all of the updates from the NCAA tournament, where Cal Petersen of Notre Dame and Sean Malone of Harvard are headed to the Frozen Four. 


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