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Sabres notebook: Players know more home focus needed

Dan Bylsma’s message to the Sabres is simple. He wants them to play the same regardless of the venue, the opponent, the referee or the weather.

“We’ve done that maybe better on the road than we have at home,” the coach conceded Thursday in First Niagara Center. “We want to make this a tough place for visitors to come into, and that’s something I don’t think we’ve done.”

Indeed, Buffalo has rolled out the welcome mat for visitors. The Sabres’ home record of 8-13-2 ranks 28th in the NHL. They have back-to-back chances to improve their standing. They host Boston on Friday and Washington on Saturday.

“We’ve got to find a way,” captain Brian Gionta said. “I’m not sure exactly what it is or what’s causing it. It’s been different things at different points of the year with our home games, whether it’s a bad start or a bad second period. It’s a matter of bearing down.”

The Sabres are 0-4-1 in their last five home games. They’ve allowed the opening goal in eight of the last nine. Overall, they’ve been outscored, 60-46, in the arena.

They hope this time they can maintain the good vibes created on the road. Buffalo has won two straight, beating Winnipeg and Minnesota. It scored the opening goal in both games, improving to 11-6 when scoring first.

“We talked about good starts, so obviously we got good starts with the first goal,” center Johan Larsson said. “We’ve got to make sure we play the same style, simplify it a little more at home. Maybe we try too much of the fancy stuff. It’s just get to the net, and that’s how we scored on the goals on the road. We’ll try to carry that into home ice here.”

It won’t be easy to turn things around. Boston is sixth in the NHL with a road record of 12-5-3. The Capitals rank first at 16-4-2.

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Sabres forward Tyler Ennis will miss his seventh straight game with an upper-body injury.

“Tyler Ennis is still week-to-week,” Bylsma said.

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Former Sabres center Cody Hodgson is off to the minors. Nashville, which waived Hodgson on Wednesday, assigned him to Milwaukee on Thursday after no one claimed him. Hodgson had three goals and five assists in 39 games.

“We signed him to enhance our offense, and it didn’t happen,” Predators General Manager David Poile told the Tennessean. “You look for other areas that maybe a player can help you - checking or penalty killing or some other area. Really, I think we were pretty honest with Cody and told him that he had to produce offensively, and he hasn’t. This is the move.”

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The Sabres are looking for three straight wins against the Bruins for the first time since winning four in a row in 2010-11. ... Buffalo defenseman Cody Franson has a five-game point streak against Boston, recording seven assists. ... The Sabres and Bruins have gone to a shootout 12 times, tying Buffalo’s highest total against any team (Ottawa and New Jersey). Each team has won six times.

email: jvogl@buffnews.com