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Sabres notebook: Johnson hurt in practice, misses first start

OTTAWA – It didn’t take Chad Johnson long to learn what it means to be a member of the 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres. Next time he’s in the crease, he might be a member of the 2015-16 Sabres.

The goaltender, scheduled to make his Sabres debut Friday, suffered a lower-body injury just hours before a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Johnson took part in the morning skate in Canadian Tire Centre and got hurt just before it ended.

“Chad, unfortunately, hurt something lower body and he’ll be out for a while,” coach Ted Nolan said. “Not day-to-day, it’ll be for a while.”

Johnson, acquired from the New York Islanders on Monday, was eager to show his new organization it can count on him. The first impression will have to wait. With only five weeks left in the season, “a while” could be the remaining 17 games.

“It possibly could be,” Nolan said. “We’ll get our doctors to look at him, and we’ll see what happens.”

Anders Lindback, who played his first game for the Sabres on Tuesday, started in Johnson’s place. He made 34 saves and said he’s ready to play Saturday in Washington.

“I’ve been working toward this for a long time,” Lindback said. “I’ll be ready to go again.”

The Sabres recalled Andrey Makarov from Rochester to serve as the backup. The 21-year-old joined the Sabres for the third time in his career. He has yet to appear in a game. The goalie is 14-14-3 with a .899 save percentage and 3.04 goals-against average with the Amerks this season.

Nolan wasn’t sure if the Sabres would keep Makarov or send him back to Rochester and bring Matt Hackett to Buffalo.

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Jerry D’Amigo says he let his first chance to be an NHL player slip away. He’s determined to do better this time.

D’Amigo, one of the Sabres’ three post-trade call-ups, played 22 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. He recorded one goal and three points before finishing the season with the Leafs’ minor-league team.

“When you let an opportunity slip away, it eats at you for a while,” the left winger said. “This is a second chance for me to show what I have and show that I can play in this league for a season. It’s a second opportunity, and I hope to do well in it.”

After a solid playoff with the Toronto Marlies – D’Amigo was second on the team with six goals and 14 points in 14 games – the Leafs traded the 24-year-old to Columbus. Buffalo picked him up in December in exchange for Luke Adam.

D’Amigo had six goals and 19 points in 31 games with the Amerks. He skated alongside center Tim Schaller and right wing Matt Ellis on Friday.

“Last year with the Leafs I played that fourth-line role and a shutdown role against top lines, so I think that’s what I’m going to have a niche to do,” D’Amigo said. “Being up here now, it’s a great organization to be in. It doesn’t feel good to lose and kind of have this cloud over you, but it’s going well so far.”

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The Sabres will close their two-day visit to North American capitals in a building they don’t like. Washington is 8-2-2 against Buffalo during the last 12 games in Verizon Center. Overall, the Capitals have earned a point in six of the last seven meetings.

Washington captain Alex Ovechkin has 22 goals and 36 points in 24 career games against Buffalo. Nicklas Backstrom also torments the Sabres with eight goals and 23 points in 26 games.

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There is no timetable for the return of Sabres forward Zac Dalpe, who left the team this week for personal reasons.

“The situation he’s going through, he’s going to take his time and get here when he can,” coach Ted Nolan said.

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The pain of sitting is getting to Senators goalie Craig Anderson, who hasn’t played since suffering a hand injury Jan. 21. He’s well enough to serve as Andrew Hammond’s backup, but Anderson is far from 100 percent.

“It hurts to not play, and I’m doing everything I possibly can to get myself in that situation to play again,” said Anderson, near tears. “The best word is ‘frustrated’ that I’m not feeling as good as I hoped I would be feeling. It’s killing me inside to not play and to watch and to not be there for the guys. It hurts.”

email: jvogl@buffnews.com

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