While the Buffalo Sabres take a break from KeyBank Center with games in Detroit (Thursday) and Washington (Saturday), the Rochester Americans will make their way west on the New York State Thruway.
The Amerks will play the Syracuse Crunch at 7 p.m. Wednesday in KeyBank Center. It's the sixth straight year the Sabres' affiliate will play a game in the downtown Buffalo arena. And the trip has been kind to the Amerks. They have won their last three games in Buffalo with a 4-1-0-0 overall mark.
Additionally, Rochester has held its opponent to two or fewer goals in its last four wins in KeyBank Center.
Other tidbits to know about the Amerks:
- They're coming off a three-games-in-three-days set that included a 12-3 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Blue Cross Arena Friday followed by two losses after regulation – a 1-0 overtime loss at Binghamton on Saturday and a 2-1 shootout loss to Binghamton on Sunday.
- Settle in for extra hockey. Probably. Rochester leads the AHL in games decided after regulation with 23. The Amerks are 7-8 in overtime while going 2-6 in shootouts.
- The Amerks are getting offense from the defensemen. Zach Redmond leads all Rochester blueliners with 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) in 45 games, placing him fifth among defensemen in the league. Brendan Guhle is fourth in scoring among AHL rookie defensemen with 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists), with his eight goals ranking third in his class. Stuart Percy has tied career highs with four goals and 25 points.
Jake McCabe is officially out for the season.
The Buffalo Sabres announced Tuesday afternoon that the defenseman is scheduled to undergo surgery to repair an injured shoulder. The estimated recovery time is four to six months.
"Jake has been progressing well in his recovery from his previous injury, but we decided that this was a good opportunity to take care of a problem that he has been dealing with for a while," Sabres general manager Jason Botterill said in a statement issued by the team. "Jake will have time to fully recover before the beginning of the 2018-19 season."
McCabe had three goals and nine assists in 53 games on the Sabres blue line this season. McCabe had been on the team's injured reserve list with a thumb injury since Feb. 8.
With two days before their next game, the Buffalo Sabres did not practice on Tuesday, opting instead for a team stretch. They'll be back at practice on Wednesday to prepare for Thursday's game against the Red Wings in Detroit.
But two players did hit the ice. Forward Nick Baptiste took shots at goaltender Robin Lehner, who was back on the ice after not dressing for Monday's 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals.
Lehner said he feels better and expects to be fully back for Wednesday's practice.
"I pulled my one hip earlier in the season," Lehner said, adding that he had an injection in his hip last week. "Been a little bit back and forth. Pulled it again against Colorado (in a 5-4 loss on Feb. 11). Just kept going through it."
Lehner remains part of trade rumors with the approaching NHL trade deadline. Teams must have deals completed by 3 p.m. on Feb. 26.
"You follow it a little bit," Lehner said. "We play in a pretty great league. Whether I stay here or go some place else, it's what it is but I'm definitely not looking at that. I feel like I'm putting in work and doing my best. We'll see what the future holds."
For his part, Lehner hopes his future remains in Buffalo.
"I think when we're clicking and we're all playing the way we can, I think it looks good," Lehner said. "We've just all got to be on the same page and get that consistency. I don't give up. I have full trust in the guys and I don't like to give up. I don't like to bail out."
Still, rumors are difficult to avoid and make players nervous.
"Rumors are flying around and it's tough to avoid them," Sabres forward Ryan O'Reilly said. "It's just part of our game.
"When we're having a season like we are, it's frustrating," O'Reilly said. "You don't know what's going to happen. It's a tough thing in the game of hockey. We'll take it one day at a time and just focus on our next day. We don't know what's going to happen but whatever is going on we have to stick together and get through it."