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Sabres Notebook: O'Reilly gets on board against former team

Ryan O'Reilly hit the post.

It was the third period and the Buffalo Sabres were clinging to their 1-0 lead over the Colorado Avalanche Thursday night in KeyBank Center.

The Sabres could have used that goal for breathing room. For O'Reilly it would have been nice to finally get a goal against his former team.

In the end, O'Reilly finished with an assist and the Sabres gladly took their two points in a 2-0 win over the Avs.

O'Reilly helped set up Sam Reinhart for an early second period power-play goal -- his fourth assist in three games against his former team.

"It’s good getting on the board," O'Reilly said of the assist. "Would have been nice to score. I still haven’t scored against them.

"We see them soon," O'Reilly noted as the Sabres play in Colorado Feb. 25 "so hopefully I can score, but anytime you get on the board it's always good. Just that feeling of contributing and making an impact on the game is important whether it’s against that team or any other team."

O'Reilly began his career with the Avalanche, playing four seasons in Colorado before being traded to Buffalo in the summer of 2015.

The Avalanche have fallen on hard times. Record hard times. Thursday was their fifth straight loss. They have just 15 wins on the season, last in the National Hockey League by 13 points.

"They have a lot of great players over there. I guess there's been a lot of bad bounces," O'Reilly said. "I haven't watched them too much but to see them that low in the standings is surprising. Those things just happen. I don't know enough about what's going on but it's unfortunate for them."

Before the bad bounces of the season there was the sudden departure of Patrick Roy who resigned as coach and vice president of hockey operations in August. Roy had coached the Avs for three seasons, including winning the Central Division title with 112 points in 2013-14. But the team did not make the playoffs the next two seasons.

"That was another surprising thing," O'Reilly said of Roy's resignation. "I was a little bit shocked by that. Talking to the guys there, it kind of came out of nowhere. What can you do? You've got to keep moving on. For the most part, I think he liked my game and we got along well. Obviously the history of myself with the contract issues is never good but that was the business side of it. I'm happy the way everything worked out here."

Colorado was not interested in giving O'Reilly a pricey, long-term deal, so they traded him before he had the chance to bolt as a free agent.

O'Reilly then signed a seven-year, $52.2-million extension with the Sabres which ties him up through the 2022-23 season.

With his assist Thursday, O'Reilly has 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) in his last 21 games. HE has 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in last 14 home games.


O'Reilly came to Buffalo in exchange for forward Mikhail Grigorenko and defenseman Nikita Zadorov.

For Grigorenko it was his second game back in Buffalo. He took one shot in 11:28 of ice time and blocked one shot.

For Zadorov, it was his first time back in Buffalo. He had five shot attempts, three on net, in his 22:42 of ice time. He also gave four hits and blocked two shots.


On the Sabres' injury front, Cody Franson remained out of the lineup with a foot injury he suffered when blocking a shot in the first period against the Anaheim Ducks last Thursday. Franson was on the ice for Thursday's morning skate and there's a chance he plays this weekend after the team thought he might be out two to three weeks. Zemgus Girgensons has what Sabres' coach Dan Bylsma called an "internal middle-body" injury but has skated on his own for two straight days.


Tyler Ennis will be at the Wegmans in Williamsville (8270 Transit Rd.) from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Friday to promote "Enzo Sauce" and sign autographs.

The homemade hot sauce with a twist of buttermilk ranch dressing is available for purchase in Tops Markets and Wegmans, while an autographed version is available on the Enzo Sauce website for $20. A portion of the proceeds from sauce sales benefit Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the Matt Cook Foundation.

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