BOSTON – NHL general managers recommended the addition of an unspecified form of three-on-three overtime beginning next season Tuesday at their spring meeting in Boca Raton, Fla. Like league officials and players around the league, the Sabres seem intrigued by the possibility of some wide-open ice.
“I think it would be fun for the players to have all that room and for the fans to watch,” winger Tyler Ennis said before Buffalo’s 2-1 shootout victory Tuesday against the Boston Bruins in TD Garden. “I’m excited to see what goes through.
“There will be a lot of strategy involved with it. Maybe three forwards, two forwards and a D-man. Two D-men. Who knows? We play a lot of three-on-three in summertime in practice. But it seems like the more ‘D’ on the ice, the better that team does.”
The Sabres have gone to overtime 15 times this year – but only three of the games have been decided with a goal. Buffalo is 1-2 in those games, and 7-5 in shootouts. The league’s goal is to cut back on the number of games decided in the skills competition.
“Too often, it seems like teams are hopefully waiting through the overtime hoping to go to a shootout and trying to win there,” said Buffalo winger Marcus Foligno. “If you do this, have a player make a play to win a game, that would be better.”
“The consensus from all of us is, while we obviously are going to continue the shootout, we are going to see if we can make it a little less frequent,” commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters following Tuesday’s session.
The joint NHL/NHLPA competition committee and the NHL Board of Governors must sign off on any changes. All parties are still trying to decide if OT will go directly to three-on-three or take on the AHL format. The minor league has extended OT to seven minutes, starting at four-on-four and then shifting to three-on-three at the first whistle following three minutes.
“It’s definitely going to give the coaches more tactics to strategize about,” Foligno said. “It’s like summer-league hockey where there’s so much room out there and you can put out your offensive guys who can wheel and deal. I think people would love to watch it.
“It will be exciting. I really think games will get settled early a lot of the time. One guy loses a man and all of a sudden there’s a quick two-on-one or three-on-one.”
The other recommendation GMs decided on Tuesday was a coach’s challenge system for goaltender interference and delay of game penalties for the puck going over the glass. Referees will look at a video monitor or tablet in the penalty box area and consult with officials in Toronto before making a call.
Teams can only make a challenge if they still have their timeout. If they lose the challenge, just like in the NFL, they lose their timeout.
Ennis said he liked the changeup the Sabres used in Monday’s shootout loss to Washington by putting him back at the point on the power play. Ennis scored a power-play goal on a neat give-and-go with Rasmus Ristolainen to snap Buffalo’s 0-for-14 skid the last eight games.
“I hadn’t played the point in a long time so I was a little nervous about it,” Ennis said. “But we needed to change it up, get a little more creativity and movement on the back. And it changed up the look for the other team, too. I’m sure they weren’t ready for that. The more movement you can get out there, the better.”
Washington winger Alex Ovechkin had 22 shot attempts Monday, his highest total in a game since he had 22 against Tampa on April 9, 2009. Ovechkin had nine shots on goal, had 10 blocked and missed on three attempts.
According to NHL.com, it’s just the 16th time since the 2005 NHL lockout a player had 20-plus shot attempts in a game – and Ovechkin has 10 of those games. Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson has three, including a 23-shot game against Vancouver that’s tops in the league this year. Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, Dallas’ Tyler Seguin and Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin have one each.
Sabres defenseman Andrej Meszaros skated on his own here Tuesday morning and Nolan said his hand injury is doing better. The coach said fellow blue-liner Zach Bogosian (lower body) is doing better as well and could be back in a few days. … Boston captain Zdeno Chara played in his 653rd career game Tuesday, passing Ken Hodge (England) for most games played by a non-North American born player for the Bruins. … The game marked the Bruins’ 250th consecutive sellout dating to 2009. … Rochester winger Dan Catenacci has been suspended for three games as a result of a boarding incident during a game Friday against Hamilton. Catenacci, Buffalo’s third-round pick in 2011, has 10 goals and 10 assists in 56 games for the Amerks this season.