In two straight games, Jake McCabe whiffed on a pass and the puck ended up in his net. He ended up in the press box because of it.
McCabe led the Sabres' list of healthy scratches Wednesday as Buffalo hosted Montreal in the home finale. McCabe was minus-12 in the previous 14 games, dropping his season total to minus-8.
“He’s made a few gaffes with the puck in costly situations, costly areas,” coach Dan Bylsma said in KeyBank Center. “He’s kind of gotten into a bit of a hole as a result of it and lost a little confidence with his puck play, and we’ve seen that the last couple games.”
It was the first scratch of the season for McCabe, who has three goals and 17 assists in 74 games.
“He’s been a good player for us, is a good player for us and will be going forward,” Bylsma said. “I don’t want to say it’s an opportunity, but it’s an opportunity to take a step back and reset yourself. That’s what he’s going to have to do here not playing tonight. Hopefully for him, he can get back in the last two games and do that.”
Rookie forwards C.J. Smith and William Carrier were also scratched. Smith, signed last week, has one assist and two shots while averaging 11:32 of ice time in his two games. Carrier has one assist, six shots and a minus-2 rating in his five games since returning from a knee injury.
The Sabres recalled goaltender Linus Ullmark to serve as Robin Lehner’s backup. Anders Nilsson got hit by a shot during Tuesday’s practice and was unable to play.
“He got through practice fine,” Bylsma said. “It just kind of escalated as he came in this morning.”
Bylsma said the injury is not serious and Nilsson should be fine for Saturday’s game in Florida and Sunday’s season finale in Tampa Bay.
The junior season is over for Brendan Guhle, the Sabres’ top defense prospect. Buffalo can recall him or place him in Rochester. The 19-year-old played in three games for Buffalo earlier this year and finished last season with the Amerks.
Prince George, Guhle’s junior team in British Columbia, was eliminated Monday in Portland, Ore.
“We haven’t made a decision on that yet,” Bylsma said of Guhle’s next stop. “They had an 18-hour bus ride back home, so I think they’ve made it there by now. But that kind of ruined the next day, as well, so he’s still regrouping from that.”
Jack Eichel won’t get to show off his pitching arm. The Sabres center was scheduled to throw out the first pitch Thursday at the Buffalo Bisons’ season opener, but the game has been rained out.
The Buffalo baseball season will start Saturday while the Sabres are in Florida, so Eichel’s autographed Bisons jersey and cap will be given away to lucky fans during the game.