The Buffalo Sabres will be holding a pregame ceremony Saturday afternoon in KeyBank Center to officially honor winger Jason Pominville for playing his 1,000th career NHL game Thursday night in Ottawa.
Prior to the 2 p.m. rematch against the Senators, the team will be handing out 12,000 "Pominville: Population 1,000" placards to fans to mark the event. It will also offer 40 percent off Pominville merchandise in the Sabres Store or arena souvenir stands.
The team informally honored Pominville in private prior to the 4-2 defeat Thursday in Canadian Tire Centre. Coach Phil Housley was the ringleader at the urging of owners Terry and Kim Pegula as Pominville's family, including his wife and two children, were brought into the dressing room to be saluted on the occasion.
"Phil gave his pregame speech and said, "Wait a minute, I forgot something,' " Pominville said Friday. "And then he came back in the room with them."
"It was a great suggestion on Terry and Kim Pegula's part to bring the family in because it was a special night," Housley said. "We wanted to recognize that in the locker room. Obviously we want to win the game but we've got to respect the players on our team when we hit huge milestones."
Pominville said his wife, Kim, kept the team's intentions quiet during the week but he figured there was something in the works.
"'Pommer' knew something was going on because his mom and dad didn't need any tickets for the game," said a smiling Housley. "He was sort of snooping around."
Pominville's third-period goal made him the fourth Sabre to tally while playing his 1,000th NHL game. The others were Gilbert Perreault (1984), Phil Russell (1986) and Brian Gionta (2017).
"It was great to see him score in his 1,000th game," said Jack Eichel, who assisted on the goal. "That's awesome. I was super happy for him. I just wish we could have had a better outcome so he could remember it differently."
Evan Rodrigues, a healthy scratch the last three games, is expected to return to the lineup for Saturday's rematch against the Senators. Remi Elie, who played Thursday, and Tage Thompson are likely scratches.
Rodrigues, one of seven regulars at forward who have yet to score or have only one goal this season, played at left wing on a line with Vladimir Sobotka and Kyle Okposo. He has four assists in 10 games.
"He’s got a big responsibility," Housley said. "He was playing both power play and penalty killing. He’s got to be good in the faceoff circle, which he has been. … He’s got all the intangibles of just being hard to play against.”
Defenseman Zach Bogosian sat out practice on a maintenance day and Housley said the team will be making that a regular occurrence when the schedule is heavy like this weekend, with three games in four days.
Bogosian had hip surgery in February and missed the start of this season with a groin injury suffered during the exhibition schedule. His ice time load the last four games has been heavy at 18:59, 20:39, 22:47 and 19:57.
“We’re going to have to monitor him and just the schedule dictates that. We've got a lot of games in a short period,” Housley said. “I’m just making sure we’re cautious."
The Sabres head for New York after Saturday's game and meet the Rangers Sunday night in Madison Square Garden.