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Sabres Notebook: Big doings over break for Girgensons, Housley

The bye week in the National Hockey League gives players and coaches five days away from hockey. Both usually get away, some to tropical locales and some just back home with family.

But for two members of the Buffalo Sabres, big things happened during the five-day break.

Coach Phil Housley returned to Minnesota and was part of the official campaign launch for his wife, Karin, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

Forward Zemgus Girgensons, meanwhile, went to California and proposed to his girlfriend.

"We went to Santa Barbara," Girgensons said. "I had that planned. I popped the question there. Everything went smooth."

Teammates offered congratulations by pushing him into the center of the team circle on the ice to lead pre- and post-practice stretching in KeyBank Center as the Sabres got back to work Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Housley was in Stillwater, Minn., where his wife, Karin, officially launched her campaign for the United States Senate.

Karin Housley, a Republican, is currently a state senator in Minnesota representing the Stillwater and Forest Lake areas. She is running for the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by the resignation of Sen. Al Franken. A special election will be held in November 2018.

"It was great," Phil said of joining Karin for the campaign rally. "It's a great opportunity for her to jump into the U.S. Senate race. A good time and now with Tim Pawlenty backing out, she's pretty much in the pole position, so it's an exciting time."

Pawlenty, a former Republican governor of Minnesota, announced Tuesday he will not run in the special election.


Defenseman Casey Nelson was recalled from the Rochester Americans and practiced with the Sabres on Wednesday. He was in for Nathan Beaulieu who is sick and listed as "day-to-day." Beaulieu missed five games in December with an illness.

Nelson is on his second recall this season, but did not play in his earlier callup. Through 37 games in his second AHL season, Nelson has 11 points (two goals, nine assists) and leads the Rochester Americans with a plus-11 rating.

"Hopefully I can capitalize on this opportunity," Nelson said adding that his season in Rochester as been "pretty good."

"I've been focusing on my defense first. That's where I feel my game has taken a step this year and just playing responsible."


 Victor Antipin is working his way back into the lineup. The defenseman has not played since Dec. 19. He was a healthy scratch for two games before coming down with the flu after Christmas, causing him to miss six games, including the Winter Classic. He returned to practiced and was a healthy scratch for the last two games (Winnipeg and Columbus) for a grand total of 10 straight games out of the lineup.

"I'm feeling better," Antipin said after practice on Wednesday. "It was really bad. I lost 10 pounds. I had to eat, eat, eat to get it back. I have a good appetite now."

Antipin said he has regained the weight and is ready to play. The message from the coaching to him as been that they "they want more skating from me, be more aggressive," Antipin said.

In 24 games, Antipin has four assists with a minus-3 rating.


In Amerks news, Brendan Guhle landed on the injury update, listed as day-to-day.

"Too bad that he suffered a lower body injury his last game but you know he's doing a great job down there," Housley said. "We want him back healthy. If he does come up we don’t want to put any pressure on him and put him in a position not to succeed.

"I really liked what he brought the last games he played with us. Especially in the Columbus game. A lot of times it was him and Jake (McCabe) up on the rush. I'm all for that kind of hockey especially attacking the game the way he did."

The Amerks begin a season-long five-game road trip Wednesday against the Utica Comets.

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