There are more smiles around Matt Moulson's locker these days. Not a ton. Not as long as the team losses are piling up. But the forward has been able to breathe a little easier the first month of the season as his four power play goals ranked first in the NHL on Wednesday.
That's four goals in five games for Moulson who scored just eight goals in 81 games last year.
He credits his power play production to his unit, which includes Kyle Okposo, Sam Reinhart, Rasmus Ristolainen and Ryan O'Reilly.
"I don’t think those chances come without the guys that we have on there," Moulson said. "We seem to work well as a unit, kind of in sync and supporting each other and creating opportunities. I’ve just been the beneficiary of a couple nice plays."
Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said he's seen where Moulson can be good for the team and the power play in his early-season production.
"He’s in and around the net, in the middle of the ice, good screen net-front but quick on the puck, quick on the shot," Bylsma said. "Every one of his goals has been because of him doing that for our power play."
The good start is a confidence boost for Moulson and helps point him in the direction of his goal.
"You definitely want to get off to a good start," Moulson said. "I want to win a Stanley Cup. That’s what I want to do and I know I can help this team if I’m playing the way I need to play and the way I know I can play. I think that’s where the work comes in, just making sure you’re able to help this team win. That’s all I want to do is win The Cup and any way I can help this team and right now it’s hopefully scoring goals."
Goaltender Robin Lehner missed practice on Wednesday. It was uncertain if he would be available for Thursday's game against the Minnesota Wild in KeyBank Center.
"This is our fourth guy that’s gotten ill and it’s all kind of been about the same amount of time frame – about a two-day window that it’s happened," Bylsma said. "So Robin’s just a shade over those two days now and hopefully he’ll start feeling better today. We’ll see going forward in terms of him coming back to the ice."
Thursday's game will be the Sabres annual participation in Hockey Fights Cancer, a league-wide program to raise money and awareness for cancer research.
The Hockey Fights Cancer Package is available for $99 and includes two 300 Level II tickets and a Hockey Fights Cancer t-shirt. Additional t-shirts are available for $20.
Fans can buy autographed Hockey Fights Cancer hats for $20. Donated by New Era Cap Company, all proceeds will go to Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Also available will be raffle tickets to win Sabres experiences and autographed items.
A ceremonial puck drop will take place before the game and Roswell Park volunteers will be in the concourse to help fans fill out "I'm fighting for ___" towels to be held up during the second period.
An online auction at auctions.NHL.com will feature Sabres items and special warmup jerseys. The auction runs through 9 p.m. on Nov. 6 and benefits Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Over the past five years, the Buffalo Sabres’ Hockey Fights Cancer fund has donated $25,000 to Flashes of Hope, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for children's cancer. The organization will be set up from 5 to 6:30 p.m. near the elevators on the street level while members of Carly's Club will join other cancer patients from Roswell park in suits donated by the Sabres organization and players Brian Gionta, Ryan O’Reilly and Zach Bogosian. After the game, pediatric cancer patients will have the opportunity to meet with Sabres players in the team’s locker room.