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Sharpen Up: October 6, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Jason Pominville made a big impact in first game as a Sabre since 2013, scoring twice, but it wasn't enough as Buffalo fell to Montreal in a 3-2 shootout loss on Thursday in Phil Housley's head coaching debut. 

Buffalo is now 0-0-1 to start the season, and they'll hit the ice for practice later this morning as they prepare for tomorrow night's road game against the Islanders.

Here's what you need to know.


About last night

"It was a pretty special night," Pominville said in our game recap. "It would have been nice to hit the net there in the shootout and find a way to win the game, but I thought overall the effort was definitely there. We did a lot of good things. If we play this way on a consistent basis we'll give ourselves a good chance to win a lot of games."

 Video: Condensed Game: Canadiens @ Sabres

Pominville opened the scoring on the power play 8:30 into the game, and after Montreal tied it late in the first, Buffalo regained the lead 22 seconds into the second on Pominville's second goal.

Video: MTL@BUF: Pominville finds net on backhanded shot

Video: MTL@BUF: Pominville nets his second goal of the game


Phillip Danault scored a shorthanded goal with 11:59 remaining in the third to erase a 2-1 lead for Buffalo. The Sabres had looked dangerous on four prior power plays and had scored on one; they seemed primed to extend their lead when Andrew Shaw was sent to the box for interference.

Instead, missed execution led to the Sabres being stuck in their own zone and Danault squeezed a wraparound attempt between the post and the skate of goalie Robin Lehner. 

"We sort of took the foot off the gas there," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "We could've made it a two-goal game and really got some momentum back."

Video: Lehner: Postgame Interview vs. MTL

"It's a fast play," Lehner said. "I get there with my skate and it goes up on me and hits my pad and it goes in. It happens in a split second and it's frustrating, but it's a lucky goal."

Video: HOUSLEY: Postgame Interview vs. MTL

Overall, though, Housley felt encouraged by the way the team executed his system. When they controlled the pace of play in the second and third periods, they did it with a dominant forecheck that saw defensemen pinching down the boards to extend plays.

The players echoed those positive feelings.

Video: Eichel: Postgame Interview vs. MTL

"That's the game we want play," Sabres forward Jack Eichel said. "Take it to the other team, put a lot of pressure on them. It's something we've been working on with our F3, reloading over the top, our D going down the walls, keeping plays alive, making it hard for them to break the puck out. I think when we had sustained pressure in zone we were doing that."

Other notes from @SabresPR

Buffalo had a franchise-record 10 players in the opening night lineup who weren't on the team's roster during the previous season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the most new players an NHL team has had in its lineup since the 2011-12 Florida Panthers (11).

Pominville's first goal gave him 457 career points as a member of the Sabres, breaking a tie with Miroslav Satan for 11th-most points in franchise history. He now trails Thomas Vanek by 39 points for 10th on the franchise list.

Tweet from @SabresPR: Pominville now trails Thomas Vanek by 39 points for 10th in team history.

With Pominville's goals, the Sabres have now had a newly acquired player score in five of their last seven season-opening games.

Evander Kane's assist on Pominville's second goal gave him eight points (2+6) in his last eight games against Montreal. Kane also finished the night with 11 shots on goal, tying his career high (3x) and logging the most shots by a Sabre since his last 11-shot game on March 5, 2017 at Pittsburgh.


Beyond Blue and Gold is back

Check out the trailer for the first new episdoe of Beyond Blue and Gold, which will air during tomorrow night's broadcast. We'll have the full episode here on later today. 

Video: Beyond Blue and Gold Teaser: Jake McCabe

The Instigators will have an exclusive clip this morning as well. 

Our next home game…

…is on Monday at KeyBank Center. It'll be a 3 p.m. faceoff against the New Jersey Devils, but come down to Alumni Plaza for a Kids Day Party in the Plaza presented by Perry's Ice Cream starting at 1 p.m. 

The Kids Day Party will feature airbrush tattoos, balloon animals, a fan photo area and music from DJ Milk. Kids will also be able to participate in the inflatable "Hockey Shot" from NHL Network. Perry's Ice Cream and Yancey's Fancy will have samples throughout the event. 

Sabretooth and other local mascots will be making an appearance and will be available for autographs and pictures. All outdoor events are weather permitting.

Fans can take advantage of the Kids Day Ticket Offer for this game that allows fans to buy up to four $15 kids tickets with the purchase of an adult 300 Level II ticket. Tickets can be purchased here, in person at the KeyBank Center Box Office or by phone at 1-888-223-6000. 

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