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For several Sabres, second chance awaits in Rochester

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

Kevin Porter never put much thought into a recall to Buffalo, although he is happy to be here. The 32-year-old forward was too busy captaining the Rochester Americans, who are preparing to make a run in the Calder Cup Playoffs, to think about a call that was out of his control. 

"That was really the main focus," Porter said of the impending playoff run. "I'm happy to be here, come up here and do what I can. It's always great to be back in the NHL. So, I'm not looking too much into it. If I get in the lineup I'm going to play hard, and that's about it."

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Wilcox honored by chance to play for childhood team

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

Adam Wilcox grew up in Minnesota, but his favorite team was always the Buffalo Sabres. His hockey fandom predated the existence of the Minnesota Wild, which joined the league as an expansion team for the 2000-01 season. Thus, he gravitated to the Sabres and their goaltender, Dominik Hasek. 

Having those childhood memories made it that much more special when his coach in Rochester, Chris Taylor, called to inform him he was being recalled to Buffalo on Friday morning.

"I figured he was telling me if I was going to play the next day, so it was quite the pleasant surprise to get that," Wilcox said. "Anytime you get a call-up to the NHL, you're honored. Pretty cool experience. This is my third time and it still feels like the first time."

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Sabres provide warm welcome for Mittelstadt at first practice

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

As his first NHL practice came to a close at HarborCenter on Wednesday morning, Casey Mittelstadt was summoned to center ice to lead the team stretch. That means he was also tasked with saying a few words to his teammates before breaking the huddle.

Given that it was his first day on the job, Mittelstadt kept it simple.

"I just said thanks for the warm welcome, good first practice and that's pretty much it," he said. 

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Sabres look to take lessons from Wednesday's loss

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

Phil Housley was vocal in expressing his frustrations with the way his team played in a 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night, a performance he deemed "unacceptable." He continued to voice his disapproval when the Buffalo Sabres returned to practice on Thursday. 

The Sabres had a short but intense practice session, and at one point Housley had to stop them to demand better execution. 

"I just thought that we weren't doing what I told them to do, which was a simple execution play of just attacking with wide speed and a middle lane drive," Housley said. "So I just tried to get their attention. The execution after that point was good."

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Young trio finds quick chemistry as linemates

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

While they waited for an optional practice to begin at KeyBank Center on Tuesday morning, the trio of Justin Bailey, Evan Rodrigues and Nicholas Baptiste warmed up on the same end of the ice. The three forwards laughed and joked with one another as they took shots on an open net. 

The three players have spent quite a bit of time with one another as of late. Before games they can be found sitting together on the home bench, looking out onto the ice. Their stalls in the Buffalo Sabres dressing room are situated next to each other: Bailey on the left, Rodrigues in the middle and Baptiste on the right. 

Coincidentally, that same arrangement has clicked on the ice for the Sabres over the past two games. Phil Housley put Bailey, Rodrigues and Baptiste on a line together in the third period of the team's win over Chicago on Saturday, and the trio used their speed on the forecheck to combine for the game-tying goal:

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Okposo practices again, expected to play Monday

Housley excited to face Nashville; Bailey assigned to Rochester

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

Kyle Okposo was back on the ice again for practice with the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday morning, and it appeared to be all systems go for the forward. Whereas he skated as an extra on defense upon returning to practice on Friday, this time he was a regular on the power play and on a line with Seth Griffith and Evan Rodrigues.

In other words, he looked ready to play. He said he felt ready as well, and Phil Housley said he expects Okposo to be in the lineup against the Nashville Predators on Monday night assuming he responds well to practice.

"I think we should expect to see Kyle depending on today and how he handled the practice," Housley said. "All signs look like a go but we'll evaluate that tomorrow."

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Okposo returns to practice with Sabres

Eichel takes another step forward; Ullmark returns

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

Kyle Okposo feared the worst, just like the rest of us. 

When Okposo stayed down on the ice following a collision with Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan on March 8, it was hard not to think back to a year ago, when a concussion cost the forward the final six games of his season and eventually landed him in the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit at Buffalo General. 

Okposo, too, thought back to last season. But while he was diagnosed with a concussion following the collision with Ryan, he quickly noticed that his symptoms weren't as severe. Reports from Phil Housley were positive, and on Friday Okposo was back on the ice with the Buffalo Sabres as a full participant at practice. 

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Eichel takes another step forward, but will not play Thursday

Rodrigues expects to play; Ullmark tends to personal matter

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

Jack Eichel took another step forward in his recovery from a high-ankle sprain on Wednesday morning. The Buffalo Sabres will ensure that he has time to progress even further before adding him to their lineup for game action. 

Eichel was a full participant in practice for the second day in a row but will not play against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. Phil Housley left the door open for a potential return when the Sabres host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday but refrained from putting a concrete timeline on the forward's recovery.

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Eichel returns to practice with Sabres

Rodrigues, Griffith return; Ullmark recalled

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

Jack Eichel returned to practice with the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday morning, his first skate with the team since sustaining a right high-ankle sprain in Boston on Feb. 10. Eichel was a full participant in the hour-long session, which ended with a 3-on-3 scrimmage. 

Whether this is a precursor to a potential return against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday remains to be seen. Sabres coach Phil Housley refrained from putting a timetable on Eichel's return to game action, and Eichel echoed that sentiment.  

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Okposo out indefinitely with concussion

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

Kyle Okposo will be out indefinitely after sustaining a concussion in the second period of the Buffalo Sabres' game in Ottawa on Thursday night. Okposo was skating through the neutral zone when he collided with Senators forward Bobby Ryan, with neither player seeing the other coming. 

Okposo was tended to on the ice by the Sabres medical staff but skated to the dressing room on his own.

"It was an unfortunate play, they just ran into each other," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "… I thought he looked really good last night on the flight home, so we'll just have to go day-to-day with that, see where he's at."

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