After a 1-4-1 preseason that ended with Friday's dreary 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders, Sabres coach Phil Housley went for a different look with his forward lines Sunday.
Free agent signee Seth Griffith, who has apparently beat out prospects Justin Bailey and Nick Baptiste to make the team, spent Sunday on the top line with Evander Kane and Jack Eichel. Ryan O'Reilly was centering Benoit Pouliot and Kyle Okposo while Sam Reinhart was between Zemgus Girgensons and Jason Pominville.
Jacob Josefson was centering Johan Larsson and Jordan Nolan on the fourth line, with Matt Moulson also working into that group.
"We needed a little spark," Housley said. "We made some moves on the top three lines throwing some combinations to see if we can create some chemistry. I thought we had a good push in the third period, not good enough, but we've got to start that way and we're going to address that. Just trying to see if we can find something."
The Sabres scored only 12 goals in their six games, second-last in the NHL preseason to the shockingly feeble eight-goal output Washington put together in going 1-5.
Griffith, who has struggled to get a consistent job in the NHL, has impressed the coaching staff in camp. He got a chance on the top line in the third period Friday and stayed there Sunday.
"His attitude is infectious," Housley said. "He's got to play like he has been the last two games. He has to be up in the forecheck. I know he's a smaller guy but he finds way to get pucks and win puck battles."
Pominville said the Sabres need to push the tempo, especially from the start of a game.
"It has to be high. We have to push ourselves," Pominville said. "Whether it's what the coaches are doing or it's just us coming down to battling and getting the pace higher than what it was to what it needs to be, we know we have to do that. We have to do a better job individually to raise that bar."
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Housley on the demotion of Bailey to Rochester: "It's just unfortunate. Justin had a terrific training camp. But with our roster size, you have to make difficult decisions. He's got to go back with the same attitude he had in camp down in Rochester. Be a leader down there. He's close."
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Forward Nicolas Deslauriers and defenseman Taylor Fedun both cleared waivers Sunday and are expected to join the Amerks. Deslauriers, who lost his job when the Sabres claimed Jordan Nolan on waivers Thursday, has not played in the AHL since five games for the Amerks in 2014 after the Sabres acquired him in a trade with Los Angeles.
Housley was relieved to find out the two players both cleared waivers. Nolan remains the only player in the NHL claimed off waivers thus far in camp.
"I'm happy they're still part of our organization because of the camps they had," Housley said. "They had a good impact on our team and we need depth. 'D-Lo' and 'Feds' can provide that."
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The Amerks made a big cut to their roster Sunday, sending eight players to Cincinnati of the ECHL. Joining the Sabres' new affiliate are goaltenders Jonas Johansson and Jason Kasdorf, defensemen Brycen Martin, Devante Stephens, Anthony Florentino and Arvin Atwal, and forwards Justin Danforth and Alex Kile.