Sabres defensemen are going to have the green light this season. It will create interesting and entertaining plays.
That was evident right from the start.
Late in the second period of Buffalo's preseason opener against Carolina, the teams were skating four-on-four. The Sabres bolted from their zone – with defensemen Taylor Fedun and Jake McCabe leading the charge.
After taking Fedun's pass just over the blue line, McCabe sped to the left circle and unleashed a laser into the top corner. It certainly won't be the last goal by a blue-liner this year.
It wasn't enough to deliver a victory. Carolina's Derek Ryan scored on a breakaway 2:19 into overtime, giving the Hurricanes a 3-2 victory.
Carolina goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic made a great stop 1:07 into the extra session, flashing the leather after Rasmus Ristolainen sent Zemgus Girgensons into the Hurricanes' zone.
Odd-man rush: After Carolina opened the scoring, the Sabres used a two-on-one break to tie it. Cliff Pu's pass to Evan Rodrigues created the odd-man rush, and Rodrigues got the defenseman's attention before feeding Seth Griffith. The left winger waited for goaltender Jeremy Smith to go down and shot high into the net with 8:10 left in the first period.
Light night: Sabres starting goaltender Robin Lehner faced just 16 shots during the opening two periods, stopping 14. Linus Ullmark played the third period and stopped all 10 shots he faced.
Slow-charging power: Familiarity and timing are building blocks to a great power play. Those don't exist in a preseason opener, and it was obvious.
The referees repeatedly sent the Hurricanes to the penalty during the first two periods, but the Sabres struggled to make anything happen. They failed to get a shot during a double-minor for high-sticking early in the second, then allowed a short-handed late in the period.
Coaching duties: Phil Housley will lead a three-coach bench this season. Associate coach Davis Payne will handle the forwards during games. Assistant coach Chris Hajt will direct the defense. Assistant coach Tom Ward will watch from the press box with video coach Mat Myers, who joined Housley's staff after working with him in Nashville.
Give them an A: Ryan O'Reilly, Kyle Okposo and Rasmus Ristolainen served as the alternate captains. The Sabres do not yet have a captain after not re-signing Brian Gionta.
Scrimmage star: The Sabres held an intrasquad scrimmage for the players who didn't dress against Carolina. Defenseman Matt Tennyson scored twice to lead Blue to a 3-2 victory over Gold. Josh Gorges also scored for the winners. Evander Kane and Jason Pominville scored for Gold, which got a few stellar stops from goalie Chad Johnson.
Counting the house: The Sabres announced 16,310 tickets sold. There were about 10,000 fewer people actually in attendance.
Next: The Sabres head to one of the other houses that Terry built. Buffalo and Pittsburgh will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Pegula Ice Arena on the Penn State campus. It will be broadcast on WGR-AM 550.
The Sabres have not announced their lineup. The Penguins' roster will feature forwards Carl Hagelin and Bryan Rust, defensemen Olli Maatta and Chad Ruhwedel, and goalie Antti Niemi.