The Buffalo Sabres have grown accustomed to playing with pieces missing from their lineup, and they'll be doing it again today. Forward Paul Gaustad suffered an "upper body" injury during Saturday night's game against Tampa Bay and didn't travel here for this afternoon's contest against the Bruins.
Coach Lindy Ruff said Sunday the Sabres did not yet have word on whether the injury would be long term or short term. It is believed to be a shoulder injury.
Daniel Paille, who was recalled from Rochester to play against Tampa Bay, remained with the Sabres. He skated in Gaustad's place on the line with center Chris Drury and right wing Ales Kotalik during Sunday's practice in HSBC Arena. Andrew Peters, scratched Saturday, will be back on the fourth line with center Jiri Novotny and winger Adam Mair.
The Sabres are in an ideal place to end their two-game losing streak.
They are on the road.
The Sabres, who dropped their past three in the arena, continue to dominate away from the foot of Main Street. They are 17-4-1 on the road, the best record in the NHL. They have one more win than Nashville (16-8-0) and two fewer losses than Anaheim (14-6-3).
They are spoiling fans' outings partly because they know they can. They'll try again this afternoon in TD Banknorth Garden.
"We have a little bit of fearlessness going into another team's building," co-captain Chris Drury said. "It'll be a good spot for us to get our game going again."
Simplicity is another attribute of the success on the road. Consciously or subconsciously, the Sabres try to please the fans while in Buffalo. They will occasionally try an extra pass or fancy play. Away from home, they just play.
"We've been keeping it simple, and sometimes at home we try to do a little too much, and it's cost us," right wing Jason Pominville said. "We turned the puck over way too much [Saturday against Tampa Bay], and on the road we usually don't do that. We make simple plays, get the pucks in deep, get our forecheck going, get our legs going, and when we do that we're at our best."
The defenseman who always gets the most attention from the Sabres will be across the ice again today. Zdeno Chara, whom the Sabres would game-plan extensively for when he was with the Ottawa Senators, is still a focal point as a 6-foot-9, 260-pound Bruin.
"He's a guy you've got to work around," Ruff said. "You can't go through him, you've got to work around him. He's a top defenseman in this league, and you've got to be prepared for his strength down low and his reach down low, and the fact that you won't have as much time because he gets there faster with his reach and stick."