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Sharpen Up: November 24, 2016

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Happy Thanksgiving! Buffalo wrapped up its four-game homestand last night and finished with five of a possible eight points. But let's start the day off with some Thanksgiving festivities.

Here's what you need to know. 


Kicking off the holiday season

Thanks again to everyone who donated turkeys this week as part of our Turkeys For Tickets drive. We collected nearly 2,400 turkeys that will directly benefit the Buffalo City Mission and the Food Bank of Western New York.

While that was going on, Lauren Hall challenged Pat Kaleta and Derek Smith to a race around TOPS Friendly Markets in Hamburg to complete their shopping list. Here are the results:

Video: Turkeys for Tickets Shopping Spree

Also this week, wives and girlfriends of Sabres players stopped by Kevin Guest House to cook a holiday meal:

Video: Sabres wives at Kevin Guest House

The Sabres Holiday Angels program is also back for another season. Sabres Holiday Angels is an adopt-a-family program that allows Sabres fans to participate by supporting our neighbors in need this holiday season. 

Please check out for details on how you can help out.


Last night's game

Video: BUF Recap: Gionta scores in tough shootout loss

Ryan O'Reilly returned to the lineup after missing the last five games (and six of the last seven) with an oblique injury. He led all Sabres forwards - as he usually does - with 22:48 of ice time. 

Video: Ryan O'Reilly Postgame (11/23/16)

Buffalo had their opportunities to put the game away in both regulation and overtime. Captain Brian Gionta scored the team's lone goal, but by goaltender Robin Lehner's count, the team hit four posts and those unfortunate bounces helped contribute to the loss. Here's the game recap.

Video: Brian Gionta Postgame (11/23/16)

Lehner was sound in net through 65 minutes, stopping 23 of 24 and improving his save percentage to .922 on the season. He and Anders Nilsson have now combined to post a .930 save percentage this season, passing Montreal's goaltenders (.928) for second-best in the league.

Video: LEHNER: Postgame

However, Lehner allowed goals on both shots he saw in the shootout and felt after the game he needs to be better in those situations. Lehner is now 7-13 all time in shootouts.

"Every shooter for me right now is a tough shooter," he said. "I'm not really in the zone in the shootouts, if you put it lightly. I've been practicing it every day and in the practice I'm stopping the puck and in the games, I'm not. A point slipped away and it sucks, but again, four posts."

Video: Dan Bylsma Postgame (11/23/16)


Mic Check

We had a mic on Kyle Okposo during Monday's game against Calgary. Here are some of the sounds during his first-star performance, where he recorded a goal and an assist:

Video: Mic Check: Kyle Okposo


But this is probably the only thing you're going to be talking about at the dinner table

The big highlight of the night was the celebrity bubble race that kicked off the BlueCross BlueShield Live Fearless Frenzy tournament. 

Rob Ray, Brad May, Andrew Peters, Craig Rivet and Thurman Thomas took a lap around the rink - well, let's face it: Rayzor and MayDay took a few shortcuts and were just looking to level people.

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: You HAVE to see this ��@robray32, @maydayhockey, @andrewpeters716, @craigrivet52 & @thurmanthomas compete in a bubble race on ice. @BCBSWNY

Don't miss your chance to compete in the next race, which will take place on Dec. 6 when the Sabres play Edmonton. Go to for all the details.   


On tap today

Buffalo is back at practice this afternoon before heading out to Washington. The Sabres play the Capitals at 5 p.m. tomorrow at Verizon Center. Join us for the TOPS Gamenight pregame show starting at 4:30 p.m. Hopefully all of your Black Friday shopping will be done by then. 

At the very least, make plans to stop by the Sabres Store before tomorrow's game. 

Tweet from @SabresStore: Don't forget to include us in your #BlackFriday shopping!

Jourdon LaBarber and Brian Duff will have your practice coverage today. Jack Eichel was on the ice with the team yesterday during the morning skate and while his return is not yet imminent, it's certainly a step in the right direction.

Video: EICHEL: Pregame Interview 

So with that, thanks for reading, but put your phone down and go eat some delicious food. If you want to spend some time with your family, that's up to you. I'd strongly encourage it, but hey, I can't force you.

We'll be back with a gameday edition of Sharpen Up tomorrow morning.

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