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Pysyk finally plays first NHL game of season

BOSTON – It was reasonable for Mark Pysyk to report to training camp thinking he had an excellent shot to make the Buffalo Sabres’ roster. He never could have guessed he wouldn’t see the NHL until four days before Christmas.

Pysyk finally made his season debut for the Sabres on Sunday night in TD Garden as Tyler Myers sat out with a lower-body injury suffered Saturday against Colorado. With Tyson Strachan and Mike Weber also both down, the Sabres had to dip to the AHL to fill their blue line.

Pysyk suffered a shoulder injury on his first preseason shift in September in a game against Carolina in First Niagara Center and that was pretty much that for his NHL hopes.

“I wasn’t thinking I was going to make it, but I was thinking I was going to do everything I could to make it,” Pysyk said Sunday prior to the game. “Then with the injury, it was all over and I knew I was headed back to Rochester. After that, I was just focused on playing there.”

Pysyk, Buffalo’s No. 1 pick in 2010, had played 63 games for the Sabres over the last two years. He had one goal, nine assists and a minus-9 rating in 28 games this year in Rochester, starting slowly as he returned from the injury.

“Maybe a little bit tentative after the injury coming back,” Pysyk said. “That’s the first time anything has happened like that, especially after the start of the season.”

General Manager Tim Murray said last month he’s OK with keeping Pysyk in Rochester until he proves with his play in the AHL that he can stay in the NHL for good. With Myers and Weber potentially ready to play Tuesday in Detroit, it could be a one-game stint for now.

“I’m a big Mark Pysyk fan,” coach Ted Nolan said before the game. “It’s just circumstances right now, and we’ll see what happens in the future. He’s a solid player, a solid kid. He’s biding his time and doing what needs to be done in order to be here permanently. This kid has potential to be one of the leaders of this organization for many years to come, so I’m glad he gets a chance tonight.”

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Tim Schaller joined Pysyk in coming up from Rochester and was playing his third NHL game.

It was quite a homecoming for Schaller, who was born in Merrimack, N.H., and played at Providence College.

Schaller centered the fourth line between Johan Larsson and Nicolas Deslauriers. With Matt Moulson again out, Drew Stafford was on the wing with Zemgus Girgensons and Tyler Ennis.

Marcus Foligno opened the game centering the second line in place of the injured Torrey Mitchell, between Brian Flynn and Brian Gionta. Mikhail Grigorenko centered Cody Hodgson and Chris Stewart.

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Bruins coach Claude Julien staged a churlish, 10-minute news conference with Boston reporters following his team’s morning skate Sunday.

The Bruins entered the game one point out of the last playoff spot in the East and coming off a 1-1-1 road trip to Nashville, Minnesota and Winnipeg that saw them score only six goals.

Injuries to Zdeno Chara and David Krejci have derailed Boston’s season to date, and the Bruins were just 1-2-2 in the five games since Chara came back from a knee injury.

As reporters asked mundane questions about line combinations and defense pairings, Julien grew oddly exasperated at the inquiries. A sample of his gripes:

• “My job is to make decisions. I don’t have to explain everything to you. Your job is you can second-guess. That’s your priority and that’s the way it is. ... Let me put it this way: It’s called coaching.”

• “Carl Soderberg’s line is really the only one that’s scoring. You guys really want me to break it up so we get no one scoring? You pick your poison.”

• “I’m not here to explain my every move. We see certain things that we have to make decisions. I’m not carving my players because if I have something to say to them, it will be behind closed doors.”

And, finally, Julien unleashed the time-tested coaching classic of “Do you guys watch the games?”

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Dougie Hamilton’s first-period power-play goal for Boston snapped the Bruins’ 0-for-11 skid with the man advantage that dated to Dec. 6 in Arizona.

Sunday was the anniversary of two offensive milestones in Sabres history. On Dec. 21, 1975, the Sabres’ 14-2 win over Washington set their franchise record for margin of victory. On Dec. 21, 1991, Alexander Mogilny scored the fastest goal in franchise history, five seconds off the opening faceoff in Toronto.

In Saturday’s loss to Colorado, Avalanche veteran Jarome Iginla assisted on three goals – notching the 16th three-assist game of his career but the first for a team other than the Calgary Flames.

email: mharrington@buffnews.com

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