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Sheary talks first impressions of Buffalo ahead of return to Pittsburgh

Forward answers questions from ahead of 3-game road trip

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Conor Sheary was a key acquisition in the Buffalo Sabres' roster makeover this summer, both for his scoring ability and the impact he could have in the dressing room. 

The 26-year-old arrived in Buffalo with 48 goals and two Stanley Cups rings already under his belt in two and a half NHL seasons. He played in all but three of the Pittsburgh Penguins' playoff games in their back-to-back Cup runs in 2016 and 2017, often playing on Sidney Crosby's wing. 

So far, he's performed as advertised. Sheary's tallied 10 points (6+4) through his first 18 games as a Sabre, including five in his last five games (3+2). He spoke with on Thursday ahead of the team's three-game road trip, which will culminate in his return to Pittsburgh on Monday night. 

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Beaulieu developing chemistry alongside Dahlin

Defenseman has 3 points in last 2 games for Sabres

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Nathan Beaulieu drifted toward the slot and caught a pass from his defense partner, setting off the sequence of events that led to Jeff Skinner's first-period goal against Tampa Bay on Tuesday night.

It wasn't an ordinary D-to-D pass, but it's the type one needs to be ready for when playing alongside Rasmus Dahlin.

"I think me and him really think the game the same way," Beaulieu said following a team meeting at KeyBank Center on Tuesday. "On the first goal, you notice that. You don't really see plays happening like that too much, a D hitting another D in the slot.

"I just think that we think the game really well, the same way, so I think that makes things a lot easier to read in the offensive zone for both of us."

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Minnesota goalie on Mittelstadt's go-to move: 'It's so hard to stop'

Reinhart practices with Eichel; Sabres look ahead to Tampa

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Eric Schierhorn still recalls situations when the Minnesota Golden Gophers were tied or trailing late last season, and an 18-year-old Casey Mittelstadt - playing his first and only season of college hockey - would skate by the net to offer reassurance.

"He'd come skate by me if there was a faceoff in our end and be like, 'Hey, we're going to get you one. I'm going to get you one,'" Schierhorn, now a senior goaltender at Minnesota, said by phone Monday. "He's putting it on his shoulders that he's going to win us the game. He wants to be that guy."

Mittelstadt was that guy for the Buffalo Sabres in their win over Vancouver on Saturday, beating Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom on his first NHL shootout attempt. He insisted afterward that he wasn't nervous. His skills, he said, were polished from a year of practice shootouts in college. 

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Switch to center sparked Rodrigues in Montreal

Forward tallied two assists centering Sobotka, Reinhart

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Evan Rodrigues admits it's uncharacteristic for him to shoot on a 2-on-1 rush, as he did in the first period in Montreal on Thursday night. The chance came on Rodrigues' first shift of the game, his shot swallowed by Canadiens goalie Carey Price. 

When Rodrigues found himself on an identical rush a few shifts later, he decided to switch things up. This time he faked a shot as he neared the Montreal net before sliding a pass across to Vladimir Sobotka, who buried the team's first goal of the night. 

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Mittelstadt, Okposo have bonded over common background

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

There's an inside joke in the Buffalo Sabres' dressing room about the guys from Minnesota. We'll let Casey Mittelstadt explain.

"I think if you're from Minnesota, you love Minnesota more than anything," Mittelstadt said after practice on Wednesday. "It's pretty much what it comes down to. All the guys make fun of us, but we talk it about how good it is. It's kind of a joke in the locker room but I think we're serious."

It's a sentiment shared by Mittelstadt and Kyle Okposo, two natives of the St. Paul area who just happen to sit next to each other in the Sabres room. Both players attended the University of Minnesota under coach Don Lucia. Both were top-10 picks who came into the NHL as 19-year-olds.  

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Okposo: 'Connected game' has led to high shot totals

Sabres have averaged 38.6 shots per game since win in L.A.

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Kyle Okposo didn't even take a second to consider the question. If the Sabres continue to play like they did in New York on Sunday, he was asked, will it translate to wins more often than not?

Okposo, never one to sugarcoat a situation, was firm in his response. 

"Oh yeah," he said. "Obviously with the exception of the result, I was really happy with how we played. Especially coming off an emotional game like we had the night before."

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Rodrigues appears set for return to lineup

Pominville to be recognized Saturday; Thompson continuing to develop

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Evan Rodrigues was credited with centering the Sabres' most consistent line early this season, when he spent the first seven games skating alongside Zemgus Girgensons and Jason Pominville. Phil Housley broke the trio up in Los Angeles in an effort to balance the lineup. 

Pominville has since become a part of Buffalo's most productive line, scoring points in six straight games alongside Jeff Skinner and Jack Eichel. Girgensons has found a home on a checking line playing with Patrik Berglund and Johan Larsson.

Rodrigues, though, has been a healthy scratch for the last three contests. He left the team prior to their game in Columbus last Saturday to be with his wife while she gave birth to their first son and has been waiting his turn to get back in the lineup since. 

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McCabe says he's 'ready to go' following full practice

Defenseman skated alongside Ristolainen on Monday

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Jake McCabe is ready to go.

The defenseman was a full participant at practice on Wednesday, back on a pair with Rasmus Ristolainen after being scratched for the Sabres' game against Calgary on Tuesday with an upper-body injury. He said he expects to be ready to play in Ottawa on Thursday.

"[I'm feeling] much better," McCabe said. "Ready to go, for sure."

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Thompson hopes to build off return in Columbus

McCabe misses practice; Rodrigues returns with good news

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Tage Thompson waited nine days for his chance to return to the lineup. Once he did, he barely had to wait at all for an opportunity to impact the scoresheet. 

Just over a minute had ticked off the clock in the Sabres' game in Columbus on Saturday when Casey Nelson made a quick pass to set Thompson free on a 2-on-1 rush with Kyle Okposo. Thompson waited for defenseman David Savard to drop to the ice before sending a pass across to the other side of the net.

Okposo went five-hole to beat goalie Joonas Korpisalo at the 1:38 mark, giving Thompson his first point as a Sabre.

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Confident McCabe seeing strong play pay off on both ends of the ice

After 2-point performance against Habs, defenseman leads Sabres blue liners with 5 points

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Confidence, they say, is key and for Jake McCabe, that's what he's crediting for his success 10 games into the 2018-19 season.

McCabe leads Sabres defensemen in scoring with five points (1+4) and is coming off a two-assist performance in last night's win over Montreal, a game in which McCabe was making strong plays in all three zones.

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