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On the day after, Sabres downplay fans' rooting interest as national media chimes in on game vs. Coyotes

The Sabres were in move-on, get-out-of-town mode today after Thursday's night's circus against the Arizona Coyotes that has made the rounds of social media and ESPN all day today.

The team had an optional practice before flying to Denver for Saturday's game against the Avalanche. Tyler Ennis will miss that one with the lower body injury he suffered against the Coyotes and Tim Schaller has returned from Rochester. Coach Ted Nolan, however, said Ennis could be available in Monday's rematch in Arizona.

Anders Lindback will be in goal and Nolan pretty much gave it up that Nikita Zadorov will be a scratch on defense after playing less than 10 minutes Thursday. Chad Johnson, who suffered an ankle injury March 6 in Ottawa, got back on the ice and said he hopes to play a game or two in goal before the season ends.

There's all your housekeeping matters. The subject of fans rooting against the Sabres and for the Coyotes continued to be a topic today in the wake of repeated coverage on "SportsCenter" as well as discussion on Deadspin, CBS Sports' Eye on Hockey and Yahoo, among others.

"It's just one of those things," coach Ted Nolan said to the reaction surrounding the 4-3 overtime loss. "People marked that on their calendars as a special thing and I'm not too sure how special it is to battle for where we are in the standings. I think when you're battling for first place, that's when your team and fans should get really excited. Not about a draft lottery. But it is what it is right now. Hopefully someday, there will be something you can really mark your calendar for."

While defenseman Mike Weber criticized the fans after the game, players danced around the subject today.

"I don't think you can let anything outside of the dressing room and off the ice affect how you approach the game," said Matt Moulson. "We are professionals. A lot of people have different things to play for. There's a lot of different reasons to bring it every night."

Captain Brian Gionta simply wouldn't acknowledge there were cheers for the Coyotes from Buffalo fans.

"Our fans were cheering for us," he insisted". We have great fans. We have a great city with passionate fans. Our fans were cheering for us last night."

Gionta tried to sell it like it was visiting Arizona fans in town. Not the best sales pitch

"It happens. A lot of teams have support here, whether it's Montreal, New York, teams like that," he said. "You get opposing teams in the building. You're always going to have them cheering."

For his part, Moulson had the best perspective: In eight games, this whole sordid tale will be over.

"I've enjoyed my time with this organization. Sometimes you go through the hardest times before the best times arrive,' he said. "We have to make sure we're working and getting better and improving."

 

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