With just three games left in the Buffalo Sabres regular season, Alexander Nylander and Kevin Porter got the call from the big club.
The Sabres recalled the two forwards from the Rochester Americans on Tuesday afternoon. It's the first call-up for both players this season.
After an injury sidelined Nylander for training camp and the first month of the season, the former first-round pick found his groove with the Amerks. His point production has picked up lately, including eight points (two goals, six assists) in his last eight games.
Nylander was the eighth overall pick at the 2016 NHL Draft by the Sabres and made his NHL debut last season with one assist in four games. In 113 career games with the Amerks he has 54 points (17 goals, 37 assists) and helped Sweden to the silver medal in the IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo this season.
Porter, the captain of the Amerks, was signed by the Sabres on July 1 to provide roster depth and much-needed leadership in Rochester as the organization looked to make a culture change. Porter ranks third on the Amerks with 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) in 64 games this season and has helped the Amerks to their first playoff berth since 2014.
Porter has played in 249 career NHL games with 58 points (29 goals, 29 assists) and has 290 points (111 goals, 179 assists) in 421 career AHL games.
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It's the final home game of the season for the Buffalo Sabres which means two things – a celebration of the fans and an end to the suffering.
The team will host its annual Fan Appreciation Night with a 7:30 p.m. faceoff Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators in KeyBank Center.
Home hasn't been a friendly confine for the Sabres this season. They will finish with the worst home record in the National Hockey League. Through 40 games, they have an 11-24-5 record. They've scored 89 goals while giving up 133.
With the performance lagging, the Sabres have stepped up festivities for Wednesday, including giving every fan in attendance a Dominik Hasek bobblehead. Prices at the concession stands will be down for the game, too, as hot dogs, soft pretzels, popcorn tubs, and Sabres souvenir soda cups will be $3 each.
The Sabres store will offer 40 percent off purchases.
The team and its corporate sponsors will present awards in a pregame ceremony including Fan of the Year, Sabres Foundation Man of the Year, Unsung Hero, Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player.
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The Sabres were off on Tuesday following their 5-2 loss in Toronto to the Maple Leafs.
Buffalo scored twice on the power play, but a major lapse in the second period in which the Leafs scored three times in a span of 5:31, helped give playoff-bound Toronto the win.
In the second, the Sabres got away from "puck management," forward Jason Pominville said after the game. "We got away from what we do. We've got to defend hard to win games. Maybe too many turnovers fed their transition and what they do best. They're a good team. They stick to it. They don’t deviate. We've got to defend and stick to what we do best to win games."
Sticking to the game plan has been an issue all season for the Sabres and Monday night's loss was another case study in their inconsistency. Buffalo had beaten the Leafs in Toronto a week earlier and had knocked off the Predators in Nashville, 7-4, on Saturday.
"That's the frustrating part," Pominville said. "At times you take a step forward and you think you're heading in the right direction and then we take a step back and didn't play the way we want to play. I mean we're playing good teams. We played a great game in Nashville and got a good start (Monday in Toronto) and then after that it just wasn't the way we need to play to win and we got the result we did."
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Wednesday will mark the fourth and final meeting between Ottawa and Buffalo this season with the Sabres holding a 2-0-1 advantage.
The Sabres opened the season series with a 3-2 win in KeyBank Center on Dec. 12. Buffalo scored three times in the second period to open up the lead on goals from Benoit Pouliot, Kyle Okposo and Evander Kane. The Sens came back with two in the third, but Robin Lehner shut the door with 23 saves against his former team.
The Senators picked up two points on Feb. 15 at home in a 3-2 overtime win. Buffalo had a 2-1 lead in the third period, thanks to a goal from Evan Rodrigues at the 15:31 mark. But Derick Brassard scored with 31 seconds left to send the game to overtime and Mike Hoffman tallied at 1:13 of OT to give Ottawa the win.
Their meeting on March 8 also went beyond regulation, but this time it was the Sabres picking up the two points in a shootout win. Marco Scandella, Sam Reinhart and Scott Wilson all scored in regulation while Jacob Josefson had the game-winner in the shootout.