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Sabres Notebook: Refreshed and ready for final regular-season push

MONTREAL -- If the Buffalo Sabres had a bad taste in their mouths from the way the last game in Dallas ended, well, it wasn't showing on the ice at Bell Centre late Monday afternoon.

The team practiced in Montreal in advance of Tuesday's game here against the Canadiens.

When last we saw the Sabres, they had three goal reviews go against them in Dallas in a 4-3 loss to the Stars. It halted a three-game winning streak for a Buffalo team which still views the playoffs as a possibility. And the locker room was not happy.

A few days away from each other and the rink rid the Sabres of the bad mojo. They were energetic on and off the ice, refreshed for the final 35 game push.

"For me it’s a nice break mentally more than anything just to get away from the rink," Evander Kane said. "When you come to the rink and you haven’t been there in a while, especially on game days, it’s a little more exciting if you’re more fresh. I think it’s a positive especially through a long, strenuous season to have those little breaks."

"Guys are able to get away from the rink, get your mind off of it and you get a little excited to come back and start playing again," said Jack Eichel who went home to Boston. "You look forward to it. You miss these guys. You miss being in the room, even just being away for a few days. You’re here every day for so long that it feels a little bit weird. It’s just nice to be back in the locker room and seeing all these faces every day and playing hockey. Back on the ice. You can’t complain. You know we’re in Montreal with a big game."

The Sabres have 49 points -- seven behind Philadelphia for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, and seven points behind Boston for the third and final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

Montreal, meanwhile, leads the Atlantic with 65 points.

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The jovial nature of practice was most evident when Sabres goaltending coach Andrew Allen made a save and was greeted with cheers and stick taps.

Allen was the second goalie in practice along with Robin Lehner. Anders Nilsson was missing from practice, but coach Dan Bylsma expects him back for Tuesday's game.

"Anders had some things to attend to back in Sweden and his flight should be getting in about right now," Bylsma said about 5 p.m. Monday. He also noted that Nilsson's was an excused absence.

Also missing was forward Kyle Okposo after playing in the NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles. He will be in Tuesday's lineup.

As for injury updates on Josh Gorges (hip) and Jake McCabe (shoulder) Bylsma said "progressing and getting better. Both those guys are moving in the right direction. Not a particular day or date to say there’s an end for them but both are doing better and improving and we’ll know more by Wednesday or Thursday on both of the guys."

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The Sabres announced a partnership with Bald for Bucks and Roswell Park Cancer Institute for February to raise money for cancer research and patient-care programs. Limited-edition t-shirts will be available for donors who contribute $50. They will also have a chance to win autographed merchandise, tickets to Sabres games and meet-and-greet opportunities. Donations can be made online at Sabres.com/BaldForBucks or during home games at KeyBank Center in February. All money raised stays in Western New York.

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