For only the second time in his seven-year NHL career, Jordan Nolan scored twice in one game.
It was about getting the puck on the net, about playing a simple game, about taking his opportunity and allowing good things to happen.
But good things aren't happening with regularity for the Buffalo Sabres. And the reason, in Nolan's eyes, is a lack of accountability.
"I think we've got to start holding guys accountable. Start being honest with ourselves and our teammates," Nolan said after the Sabres 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild in KeyBank Center Wednesday. "When we're turning pucks over and not working hard, it kinda (gets) swept under the rug and we've got to, if someone does turn it over, if they don't chip it in at the red line or blue line, we've got to say something.
"This team hasn't been too successful and it needs to change or it's going to be a long season and a few seasons to come if that's the way it is. But we've got to turn the page here and start holding each other accountable I think."
Nolan said that was the culture in Los Angeles, where he played with the Kings for six seasons winning two Stanley Cups.
"If I made a mistake in my fifth year, a higher guy was telling me, 'you've got to work harder. You've got to chip that puck in.'" Nolan said. "I remember Jeff Carter telling me a few times when I was younger that I need to work harder or my shifts are too long. And that's just little things. That's what I learned coming into the league and I think we're missing a little bit of that in this room. But guys are young and I think they need to be told."
Nolan got his first goal as a Sabre at 2:01 of the second period, taking a pass from Kyle Okposo and firing it on net. He scored again with 6:05 left in the game, taking a pass from Nathan Beaulieu and again just threw it on net.
His only other two-goal game came on Dec. 2, 2016.
"I mean I try to prepare the same way every day," Nolan said. "I try to play hard. I try to be positive around here and keep guys honest. I just try to do that every day and I just happened to get two goals today."
After making it through the summer and training camp injury-free and excited about the prospect of a more active role for defensemen, it seemed as if the stars might have finally aligned for Zach Bogosian in Buffalo.
But then came the injury. In the last period of the last preseason game.
Officially listed as a lower body injury, but believed to be a groin issue, Bogosian was sidelined. Again. The 27-year-old defenseman has had his share of injury trouble. This one landed him on injured reserve to start the season and there he's been ever since. Wednesday marked the 22nd game of the season for the Sabres and it was the 22nd game that Bogosian missed.
The good news came Wednesday morning when Bogosian skated for the first time with his teammates in KeyBank Center. A small group of Buffalo Sabres took an optional morning skate before hosting the Minnesota Wild. That included Bogosian, for the first time in more than a month, along with fellow injured defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who missed his ninth game with an upper body injury.
"Obviously would have liked to come back quicker but you know I re-aggravated it a little bit trying to come back," Bogosian said in his first meeting with the media since training camp. "That's what happened. So just try to be smart about it the second time around. It seems like I've turned the corner and just trying to now get back into practice with the team and then eventually into a game."
Bogosian said the injury occurred in the third period of the Sabres preseason finale on Sept. 29, a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers in KeyBank Center.
"It was in the last preseason game," Bogosian said. "I just felt a tweak and it was in the third period, which kinda stinks. You know I get through training camp and preseason feeling really good, liking where my game's going and then the last period of the last preseason game it happens."
Not his first trip on the injured reserve meant Bogosian had experience with how to mentally deal with the prolonged injury. He was determined to stay positive. But how does one do that?
"Two things. One, you don't listen to the outside noise and two you just don't get frustrated," Bogosian said. "I think me getting frustrated is not going to help me. It's not going to help my teammates. It's not going to help the team. I'm a pretty positive guy. I try to be as upbeat as possible. There's a lot worse things in life that people are going through. I'm dealing with an injury. That's how I thought about it. So I just tried to stay positive and not listen to the outside noise and go about my business."
There's no timetable for Bogosian's return. He still needs to get into a full practice to see how his body responds to five-on-five drills and contact. He needs to get his timing back with passing and reacquaint himself with an opposition rush heading his way.
But the Sabres are ready to get Bogosian and Ristolainen back in the lineup as soon as possible.
"I think if they're ready, they're ready," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "We have no time to wait, obviously. We haven't had our full six, so to speak, since Day 1. The great thing is these guys are getting close. We want to be smart about it, too, because we don't want to have any negative setback."
Ristolainen, who said his upper body injury occurred from a hit and a shot late in the third period of Buffalo's 5-4 win in Arizona on Nov. 2, feels ready to go.
"I told everyone I'm ready. It's up to them when I will be back," Ristolainen said. "It's been real hard. You can't help your teammates and you see we've had some tough games and tough weeks there. So obviously you would like to help and hopefully I can be back soon and help the team."
The Sabres unveiled the jerseys they will wear for the 2018 Winter Classic on Jan. 1 when they play the New York Rangers at Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets.
"It's unreal. It's great," said forward Jason Pominville, who was part of the original Winter Classic with the Sabres 10 years ago. "They did a good job. I like the look. I like the old-school look of it, too. Even the shells on the pants and the gloves look pretty neat. I'm sure that's going to be a pretty popular jersey around here."
The jersey is primarily white with blue and gold accents. The letters "NY" have been added as a nod to the intrastate matchup with the Rangers.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) November 22, 2017