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Polls: What do you think the Islanders will do? What do you want them to do?

By John Vogl

The Inside the NHL column in Sunday's paper will examine the New York Islanders' options regarding their first-round picks. They have to give either their 2014 or 2015 selection to the Sabres as part of their trade to get Thomas Vanek.

This year's pick is No. 5 overall. There's no telling what the 2015 pick could be. Given the Islanders' history, they'll miss the playoffs and it'll be another high pick with Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel available in the lottery. Given New York's roster, the club might make the postseason and the pick would be later in the first round.

The Islanders have until June 1 to decide. You get to do it now.

Turd Burger can't match the Slug as Sabres fail to crack Top 25 in jersey sales on NHL website

By John Vogl

When the Sabres rolled out radically different jerseys in 2006, fans didn't really like the "slug" design. It didn't stop them from buying them, though, as the Sabres dominated the sales chart on

A redesign failed to work this time.

The Sabres rolled out new third jerseys this season, and they were met with insults and sales apathy. Dubbed the "Turd Burger" after Sabres President Ted Black said he'd put them on a bun and eat them if sales failed, the dual-colored sweaters failed to make the Top 25 on, according to the league's media relations department.


While the jersey itself failed to capture the fans' imagination and pocketbooks, sales were also doomed by a lack of stars in Buffalo. Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, Ryan Miller and Maxim Afinogenov were among those who had legions of jersey-buying faithful in 2006-07, when the Sabres went to the Eastern Conference finals for a second straight time. The key players in Buffalo this season were Miller, Steve Ott and Thomas Vanek, but it was clear they wouldn't be with the rebuilding organization for long. Fans had no clear-cut favorite to put on their back for the long term.

Sabres making coaching changes as ax falls on Nolan's assistants

By John Vogl

There was no question Sabres coach Ted Nolan would want his own assistants. He has room to add them because the holdovers are out.

Buffalo announced today that assistants Joe Sacco, Teppo Numminen, Jerry Forton and goalie coach Jim Corsi will not be back in their roles next season. Sacco and Forton have been offered other jobs in the hockey department. Corsi has been let go and Numminen will not have his contract renewed.

Nolan took over for Ron Rolston during the season and inherited the former coach's assistants. Though there were no outward signs of struggle within the staff, it was assumed Nolan would want to hire his own people.

The Sabres said Nolan is not available to comment on the changes.

Corsi was the longest-tenured member on the Sabres' coaching staff. He just completed his 16th season in Buffalo, and he's worked with Dominik Hasek and Ryan Miller. The affable coach is also known for inventing the Corsi Rating, a common hockey analytics tool that compares the shots directed at the opposition's net to the attempts taken on the team's own net.

Numminen, who finished his long NHL career on the Sabres' blue line, just finished his third season as a coach. He spent the first two in the press box talking to the other coaches on a headset, and he was promoted to a bench job this season.

Sacco and Forton were in their first year in the organization. Sacco spent the previous four seasons as head coach in Colorado, where he was a Coach of the Year finalist in 2010. He will be an assistant for the U.S. world championship team this spring.

Forton came to the Sabres with no prior NHL experience and worked in the press-box role.

There's no word on who Nolan will hire as his assistants. One likely addition will be Randy Cunneyworth, a longtime friend of Nolan who is already in the organization as liaison between the Sabres and their minor-league club Rochester. Nolan, who is also the coach of the Latvian national team, has spoken highly of Latvia's goalie coach, Arturs Irbe. The longtime NHL goaltender left his job with the Washington Capitals in 2011 to spend more time with his family.

Penguins' Crosby heads list on NHL awards ballot

By John Vogl

The ballots for the NHL's top awards are due today. Most awards are voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, and it has encouraged its members to publish their votes. So, here you go.

HART TROPHY ("to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team")

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim
Semyon Varlamov, Colorado
Jamie Benn, Dallas
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia

NORRIS TROPHY ("to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position")

Shea Weber, Nashville
Zdeno Chara, Boston
Ryan Suter, Minnesota
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles
Duncan Keith, Chicago

CALDER TROPHY ("to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition")

Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado
Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay
Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg
Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay
Frederik Andersen, Anaheim

LADY BYNG TROPHY ("to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability")

Ryan O’Reilly, Colorado
Patrice Bergeron, Boston
Patrick Marleau, San Jose
Jason Pominville, Minnesota
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay

SELKE TROPHY ("to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game")

Patrice Bergeron, Boston
Jonathan Toews, Chicago
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles
Ryan O’Reilly, Colorado
Joe Thornton, San Jose

Sabres lose draft lottery, will select second overall; Florida gets No. 1

By John Vogl

SCARBOROUGH, Ont. – Tim Murray sat expressionless as NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly unveiled the Florida Panthers as the winners of the draft lottery. The Sabres’ general manager had played out the scenarios in his head during the drive north from Buffalo, and he figured someone would leapfrog his last-place club and draft first overall.

He was right. The Sabres lost all season on the ice, so it’s little surprise they lost a lottery, too. They’ll pick in the No. 2 slot at the NHL Draft on June 27 in Philadelphia.

“I’m not disappointed,” Murray said Tuesday night in a Canadian television studio. “It’s kind of what I was expecting.”

Despite the continuing run of bad luck, Buffalo will select in the top five for only the second time since 1987. They took Thomas Vanek fifth overall in 2003.

“We’ll get a good player, and I think there’s a great chance we could get a guy that we have No. 1 on our list,” Murray said. “I think with the way the draft sets up, we probably have a better chance of getting the guy that we have No. 1 than we had a chance today of getting the first pick.

“To me, it’ll all work out.”

There’s a chance the Sabres could have two of the top five picks. The New York Islanders own the No. 5 selection, but they have until June 1 to decide whether to give it to Buffalo or deliver their 2015 first-round pick to the Sabres as part of their October trade for Vanek.

“We haven’t made our mind up yet,” said Trent Klatt, the Islanders’ head amateur scout.

New York GM Garth Snow did not attend the lottery.

“I certainly know staying at five there’s a better possibility of us getting their pick versus if they had moved to one,” Murray said. “There’s a 50-50 chance that we’ll have two picks in the top five, and we’ll be prepared for that.

“I don’t have a preference. If it’s this year, we know where they are this year. We know it’s a top-five pick this year, so we know we’re going to get a hell of a player. There’s a lot of uncertainty about next year. I’m not a big fan of uncertainty, so we’d be quite happy with it this year.”

The NHL has been conducting a draft lottery since 1995, but it revamped the rules last year to give all teams that fail to make the playoffs a shot at the No. 1 selection. The team that finishes last has a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery and retaining the top pick. The rest of the first round is conducted in reverse order, so last-place Buffalo had a 73.5 percent chance of falling to No. 2. It did.

(New Jersey, which had a 1.5 percent chance of winning the lottery, was ineligible because of a salary cap violation. Another lottery would have been conducted had the Devils won.)

Buffalo became the 13th last-place team in 19 lotteries to lose the weighted contest. Florida finished at the bottom last year, but Colorado won the lottery to bump the Panthers to second. They’ll get the top spot this year.

“Very good day for the Panthers,” said Travis Viola, the vice president of hockey operations. “We’re still just evaluating what we really want.”

There are three players considered worthy of being drafted at the top: defenseman Aaron Ekblad and forwards Sam Bennett and Sam Reinart. Viola said the Panthers boast their best depth up front. That might lead them to take Ekblad. The Sabres were far and away the worst offensive team in the NHL and have a good corps of defense prospects, so forward might be their desired selection.

Buffalo’s scouting staff will meet in May to rank the prospects.

“We have a forward that we have somewhat of a consensus in the group that is at the top of the forward list,” Murray said. “We’ve got a lot of needs. We’re just going to take the best player available, whether we feel that’s a forward or a defenseman.”

The rebuilding Sabres are expected to be a lottery team again next year. The NHL is discussing whether to make changes to the process.

“I still believe in that concept that the worst overall team should have a chance to get better, so that’s not going to change,” Daly said. “What the managers have asked us to do is take a look at it and see if further tweaks might be appropriate. Having said that, we’re satisfied with the way the draft lottery system works now.”

Panthers win NHL Draft Lottery; Sabres will select second overall

By John Vogl

SCARBOROUGH, Ont. – The Sabres lost all season on the ice, so it’s little surprise they lost a lottery, too.

Last-place Buffalo will not pick first overall pick in the NHL Draft after the Florida Panthers won the draft lottery tonight. There were 13 non-playoff teams eligible of earning the No. 1 selection, and the 29th-place Panthers won while having an 18.8 percent chance.

The Sabres had the best chance at 25 percent.

The draft will be held June 27-28 in Philadelphia, and Buffalo will select in the top five for only the second time since 1987. They took Thomas Vanek fifth overall in 2003.

The NHL has been conducting a draft lottery since 1995, but it revamped the rules last year to give all teams that fail to make the playoffs a shot at the No. 1 selection. The rest of the first round is conducted in reverse order, so Buffalo had a 73.5 percent chance of falling to No. 2. It did.

(New Jersey, which had a 1.5 percent chance of winning the lottery, was ineligible because of a salary cap violation.)

Buffalo became the 13th last-place team in 19 lotteries to lose the weighted contest. Florida finished at the bottom last year, but Colorado won the lottery to leapfrog the Panthers and bump them to second.

There are four players considered worthy of being drafted at the top: defenseman Aaron Ekblad and forwards Sam Bennett, Sam Reinart and Leon Draisaitl. The Sabres were far and away the worst offensive team in the NHL and have a good corps of defense prospects, but General Manager Tim Murray wouldn’t rule out taking Ekblad, if he’s available.

“We could if he’s the best player,” Murray said. “I’m not saying he’s the best player, but he’s in the group of three or four guys when we get together in May that will be discussed as the No. 1 pick. He’s in the group. I’m not going to say he for sure is the No. 1 player on our list, be he will be in the discussion. There’s no question.”

The Sabres could end up with two picks in the top five. The New York Islanders own the No. 5 selection, but they have until June 1 to decide whether to give it to Buffalo or deliver their 2015 first-round pick to the Sabres as part of the Thomas Vanek trade.

Isles GM Garth Snow did not attend the draft lottery, so his thoughts will have to wait.

“He’s got to say yes or he’s got to say no. It’s not maybe,” Murray said. “Next year in a really good draft, if he decides to keep it this year, then you have an extra pick. It’s a win-win situation.”

Murray calls season 'completely unacceptable' and says he's not planning on five-year rebuild

By Mike Harrington

The Buffalo Sabres' rebuild starts in earnest tonight with the NHL Draft Lottery in Toronto,  after what General Manager Tim Murray admitted was an "unacceptable" last-place season.

Murray and coach Ted Nolan met with reporters today in a wrap to the Sabres' 21-51-10 trainwreck of a season, the worst by an NHL team in 14 years. And Murray was frank in his assessment of what happened and what he'll do going forward. He said he pulled no punches when he met with his players yesterday prior to the taking of the annual team photo.

"This year was completely unacceptable," Murray said. "I told them it wasn't all on them. It was on management, it was on coaching staff. A lot of it was on injuries where we had to put people into positions that they aren't ready for. So that's out of our hands. As far as coming next year and being ready to battle for jobs, there's going to be competition and we're not going to hand jobs to come in unless they deserve it."

"A lot of nights it was hard to watch," Murray said a few minutes later. "A lot of nights we competed hard and just didn't have enough talent to put us over the top but other nights weren't pretty."

Murray said he's naturally impatient but will do what's best for the organization through the draft and free agency, and expects to sign a couple of veterans this summer to augment the roster.

"Are we going to improve in leaps and bounds or is it going to be increments?" he said. "But we will improve. We have to decide as an organization how we're going to get there. This is not going to be a five-year rebuild. ... When you tear it down, it doesn't happen overnight but I don't buy into five-year rebuilds."

Murray said the Sabres have several players on their draft board -- even Barrie defenseman Aaron Ekblad. The Sabres were the lowest-scoring team in the expansion era but aren't automatically taking a forward whether they draft No. 1 or No. 2. 

The New York Islanders owe the Sabres a top pick either this year or next year. If they win the lottery tonight, they would almost certainly give Buffalo the pick next year, another chance at the Connor McDavid sweepstakes. Would they really give up the No. 1 this year? Murray is pondering all options.

"I want to win the lottery. I want to win something here," Murray said, drawing laughs. "I do want to win the lottery. If I don't win it, I want Garth to win it and so at least there's a 50-50 chance we get that pick."

In other news from Murray and Nolan:

---NHL supplemental discipline: "I've had some talks with people in the league," Murray said. "We've had our pee-pee slapped once here so I've got to be careful what I say." The GM did say the league acknowledged his complaints about the five-minute major for interference Jake McCabe got Saturday in Boston.

---Coaching staff: Nolan said no definitive decision has been made on his assistants although sources maintain that Joe Sacco, Teppo Numminen, Jim Corsi and Jerry Forton will not be retained.

---Buyouts: Murray said it was less than 50-50 the Sabres would use both of their CBA-allowed compliance buyouts this June but pretty much admitted one will be used on goal-less forward Ville Leino. "It's not 100 percent but it's a very good possibility that's one of our buyouts," Murray sid.

---Injuries: Murray said he believes goaltender Matt Hackett needs surgery on his injured right knee while goaltender Michal Neuvirth has been seeing a specialist for a nagging hip problem. Marcus Foligno (shoulder) and Henrik Tallinder (ankle) are pondering minor surgeries.

Click below to hear the full question-and-answer session with Murray and Nolan

Murray-Nolan presser

A quick look at Hudson Fasching's freshman year at Minnesota

by Amy Moritz

It was an impressive freshman campaign for Hudson Fasching, which is good news for Buffalo Sabres fans.

The 6-2, 207 pound forward was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team. He played in 40 games for the Golden Gophers this season with 14 goals and 16 assists. He scored six power play goals and was a plus-17.

He scored in the NCAA championship game, a late tally for Minnesota which fell to Union, 7-4, in the on Saturday.

Fasching was aquired by the Sabres on trade deadline day as part of a deal with the Los Angeles Kings which also sent Nick Deslauries to Buffalo in exchange for Brayden McNabb, Jonathon Parker and two second-round draft picks.

At Minnesota, he was part of a high-scoring freshman class which scored 40 percent of the team's goals. The freshmen averaged 1.42 goals per game before the Frozen Four -- the highest ratio of any rookie class in the country this season.

Fasching was a big presence in front of the net (hey, that's something the Sabres could use more of) and over the course of the season learned how to use his size and physical game to his advantage. He scored the fourth goal for the Gophers in the title game -- a power play goal at 16:20 of the third. Check it out from the Minnesota highlight package:

Live blog at 1 p.m.: Sabres news conference

Sabres face long odds to win NHL Draft Lottery; last-place team has won just six of 18

By John Vogl

The NHL has conducted 18 draft lotteries. The last-place team has won it just six times.

The Sabres hope to become No. 7.

The league will announce the result of the weighted lottery at 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBCSN. Last-place Buffalo has a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery and keeping the first overall pick.

Florida, which finished 29th, has an 18.8 percent chance. The odds for the remaining non-playoff teams are: Edmonton (14.2 percent), Calgary (10.7 percent), New York Islanders (8.1 percent), Vancouver (6.2 percent), Carolina (4.7 percent), Toronto (3.6 percent), Winnipeg (2.7 percent), Anaheim, from Ottawa (2.1 percent), New Jersey (1.5 percent), Nashville (1.1 percent), Phoenix (0.8 percent) and Washington (0.5 percent).

Though New Jersey is in the lottery, it is not eligible to select first overall as part of its discipline for giving a salary cap-circumventing contract to Ilya Kovalchuk. If the Devils win the lottery, another will be conducted.

If the Sabres fail to win the lottery, they will drop to No. 2 in the draft, which will be held June 27 in Philadelphia.

The last-place team hasn't won the lottery since 2010, when Edmonton retained the No. 1 pick. The other bottom-feeders to win were Ottawa (1996), Boston (1997), St. Louis (2006), Tampa Bay (2008) and the Islanders (2009).

The Islanders have until June 1 to decide whether to give their 2014 or 2015 first-round pick to the Sabres as part of the Thomas Vanek trade.

Myers on last-place finish: 'It can only go up'

By Mike Harrington

Defenseman Tyler Myers certainly finished the season as one of the most frustrated Sabres. He sat out five games with an elbow problem in the middle of March -- missing a trip to his childhood home of Calgary for the second time in his career -- and then returned March 25 against Montreal. In the third period of that game, Myers slid hard into a goalpost and revealed today he suffered two broken ribs.

So Myers missed the final 10 games of the season and thus 15 of the last 16. That gave him a lot of free time to sit around and watch.

"Obviously it was a season that we have to make sure we reflect on and realize changes need to be made," Myers said today after cleaning out his locker. "We also want to take the positives out of it too and bring those into September and make sure everybody is on the same page.

"Whenever you finish in last place in the league, it can only go up from there. It's a matter of coming in, trying to improve every day,  coming together as a group and working as a team that can get into contention."

Myers is actually getting close to middle age of his NHL career. He's played five seasons and is through two years of his seven-year, $38.5 million contract. By the end of next year, the former Calder Trophy winner will be 25. 

"Guys around my age in the room definitely have to step up and be the core of this team," Myers acknowledged. "It's a young team and we can definitely take steps this summer and become leaders."

Like everyone in the organization, Myers is encouraged by the team's depth on defense. That's particularly true when talking about first-rounders Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov.

"With Risto and Big Z coming, those are two guys that have a lot of potential," Myers said. "It's all going to come down to, not only the D-corps coming together, but the whole team. We have to start creating a belief system that we didn't start with this year."

Click below to hear the audio of Myers' wide-ranging interview today:

Tyler Myers

Sabres' Weber: 'Enough's enough. Joke's over'

By John Vogl

Mike Weber knows folks in Sabreland are tired of hearing false promises. The defenseman is tired of hearing them, too.

"We’re not joking around anymore," Weber said today as the Sabres cleaned out their lockers in First Niagara Center. "There has to be a new standard here. I know that word has been thrown around for a couple years here with talking to all of you guys – 'We’ve got to change the culture, we’ve got to change the standards' – but enough’s enough. Joke’s over.

"We’re not in this game to get high draft picks, at least I’m not. I know that’s not the goal for the front office, either. We’re in this to win championships and get things on the right track here."

The Sabres, who finished last in the NHL with a 21-51-10 record, have a lot of work to do. Weber says with new stability -- Tim Murray and Ted Nolan are in place as the general manager and coach, respectively -- the work can begin.

"I hope everyone takes it seriously," Weber said. "These types of things, they hurt. I think our fans have been very supportive, but at the same time you don’t want to disappoint people. You don’t want that feeling walking around town that you’ve disappointed people or you’re letting people down, especially a hard-working city like Buffalo.

"I think to every man, we’ve accepted the challenge. You have five and a half months here to get yourself ready for training camp, and I expect training camp to be what training camp should be for a 30th-place team. It should be hard. It should be intense. I know Teddy is making sure every guy knows that."

Name the three stars

Sabres Live: Pregame chat at 4:30 p.m., Sabres-Islanders updates at 5 p.m.

Making final impressions on the last day of the season

by Amy Moritz

You only get one chance to make a final impression.

Welcome to the Buffalo Sabres' season finale where players, especially the younger ones, have a chance to make a lasting impression on the Sabres coaching staff and front office. The Sabres host the New York Islanders at 5 p.m. in First Niagara Center. It's a critical opportunity for players looking for jobs and to be part of an organization headed toward a complete rebuild over the summer.

Ted Nolan said that Connor Knapp will get the start in goal for the Sabres as Andrey Markarov, who has played the last two nights for the Rochester Americans, will serve as backup. For those counting, the team has dressed nine different goaltenders this season, breaking the NHL record for most goaltenders which was set by Anaheim in 2009-10 and matched this year by Edmonton.

Knapp played for 11:35 of the third period Saturday in Boston, entering the game after starter Matt Hackett suffered a serious leg injury.

Just how serious? Nolan said full updates on the injured Sabres will be given on Monday as the team cleans out the dressing room and leaves for the off-season.

The injuries have meant three call-ups from Rochester for the Sabres finale -- Markarov, Nick Deslauriers and Mark Pysyk.

It also means that previously healthy scratches Ville Leino and Zenon Konopka will be in the linup tonight.

Andrews Nilsson will start for the New York Islanders. He is 7-7-2 with a 3.13 goals against average and .894 save percentage in 18 appearances this season.

Nolan's complete pre-game comments can be heard here:

One for the books: Here are some NHL and franchise records the Sabres can set

By John Vogl

The Sabres will need a sudden surge of offense in today's season finale to avoid a long list of dubious records.

The most significant record the Sabres can set is fewest goals scored in a season (post-1967 expansion). Tampa Bay set the NHL mark in 1997-98 with 151 goals. The Sabres have 147. Buffalo is averaging 1.82 goals per game.

As for franchise records, the Sabres are assured of three:

*Buffalo's season-low goal total is 190 set in 2002-03. The Sabres need to score 44 times against the Islanders to avoid that. (Sure would make for an interesting "Fan Appreciation Night," wouldn't it?)

*The Sabres will have the fewest double-digit goal-scorers in team history. The record is seven, set in 2011-12. Buffalo has just four this year. Zemgus Girgensons needs two goals to make it five, and Marcus Foligno needs a hat trick to make it six.

*Lowest assist leader. Alexei Zhitnik had 30 helpers in 1997-98 (get used to reading that season). Christian Ehrhoff has 27 assists, but he'll miss the game with a concussion. Cody Hodgson is next with 24, so he needs seven assists to avoid the mark.

With those three records locked down, the Sabres have a good (bad?) chance at two more:

*Lowest points leader. Miroslav Satan led the Sabres with 46 points in '97-98. Hodgson has 44 points heading into today's game.

*Lowest goals leader. Donald Audette paced the Sabres with 24 goals in '97-98. (That really was an average team with a great goaltender.) Tyler Ennis leads the Sabres with 21 goals. He'll need four today to top Audette.

If Ville Leino fails to score for the 58th game, he actually won't set a record. Rob Ray went 76 games without a goal in 1998-99, the most scoreless games played by a forward in team history.

To leave y'all with happy memories, here are some positive team records:

*Alexander Mogilny scored 76 goals in 1992-93.

*Pat LaFontaine had 95 assists and 148 points in 1992-93.

*The Sabres had 15 double-digit goal-scorers in 1982-83.

Injury-riddled Sabres recall Markarov, Pysyk, Deslauriers for season finale

By John Vogl

The Buffalo Sabres and Rochester Americans both play games at 5 p.m. While the Amerks' game is more meaningful, the Sabres had little choice but to raid the minor-league roster again.

Buffalo has called up goaltender Andrey Makarov, defenseman Mark Pysyk and forward Nicolas Deslauriers for the season finale against the New York Islanders. The Sabres needed to restock the roster after five players got hurt Saturday in Boston.

The Amerks, and more specifically their fans, would prefer those three contributors skate in Cleveland this afternoon when Rochester visits Lake Erie. The Amerks are in seventh place with 80 points, just three more than the trio of Oklahoma City, Charlotte and Rockford. Eight teams make the playoffs, and the race will be decided during the AHL's final week.

While the Sabres theoretically could have called up lesser players to fill the roster in an effort to keep the Amerks at peak form, the organization has said it has a duty to reward deserving players with NHL time.

Vote for your Three Stars

Sabres lose five players and game; Hackett carted off on stretcher

By John Vogl

BOSTON – The Sabres’ record-setting injury problems in goal had reached a laughable state at the start of today’s game. When Buffalo athletic trainer Tim Macre called for a stretcher to get Matt Hackett off the ice, the situation wasn’t funny anymore.

The goaltender suffered what appeared to be a major leg injury with 11:35 left in a 4-1 loss to Boston. The Bruins’ Torey Krug, skating toward the net at full speed, tripped over Buffalo defenseman Jamie McBain and flew into Hackett’s right leg.

“For a second I thought he was OK, and then he started screaming,” Krug said. “You never want to see stuff like that happen, no matter how it happens. It’s tough.”

Hackett stayed facedown for several minutes as seven people tended to his injury. They eventually lifted the goalie onto a stretcher as he covered his face in pain.

Hackett flew home with the Sabres after getting medical attention in TD Garden.

“We’re going to wrap him up as best as we can, get him back home, get our doctors to look at him, but it doesn’t look too good,” said Nolan, who added the leg wasn’t broken.

While Hackett’s injury was the most serious, it was far from the only one. Four other Sabres left the penultimate game – defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (concussion) and forwards Chris Stewart (ankle), Brian Flynn (lower body) and Matt D’Agostini (lower body). None will be available for Sunday’s season finale against the New York Islanders in First Niagara Center.

“It’s a tough enough year on us in our situation with the standings, but also to lose bodies the way we’ve been doing is an unfortunate thing, too,” McBain said. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my career. I’ve never heard of anything like it.”

The undermanned Sabres had a nearly empty bench by the end of the game. Officials ejected Jake McCabe with 12:43 remaining with a major interference penalty after a hit on Daniel Paille, who wobbled off the ice with help from teammates. John Scott followed McCabe to the dressing room with 3:40 remaining with a 10-minute misconduct for talking with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who also got booted.

“We were playing with basically two lines the last half of the period, guys dropping with injuries and penalties,” right wing Drew Stafford said. “That’s a heck of a team over there. It’s going to be a challenge with four lines and six D, let alone we’ve got two lines and four D.”

There was no word on who would be the Sabres’ second goaltender today. The Rochester Americans, who are in in a playoff battle, also have a 5 p.m. start, with their game in Cleveland against Lake Erie.

Connor Knapp replaced Hackett, and backup’s first appearance on an NHL roster sheet was one for the books. Knapp became the ninth netminder to dress for the injury-plagued Sabres, who set an NHL record for most goalies used in one season.

“I’m setting records right away when I get in,” the goalie said with a grin before the game. “It’s a crazy year, for sure, within the organization.”

It got crazier with Hackett’s departure.

“All the guys feel pretty terrible about something like that happening, especially with everything that’s happened already,” Knapp said. “Definitely not the way you want to play your first NHL minutes. To see Hack go down like that, it’s tough.

“That’s probably the majority of how injuries happen. We’re so focused on the puck, and a lot of times our save selections put us in a vulnerable position to get hit. It’s not a great defensive posture to be down on your knees like that. There’s really not much you can do.”

Ryan Miller, Jhonas Enroth, Ryan Vinz, Jaroslav Halak, Michal Neuvirth, Nathan Lieuwen, Hackett and Makarov were the other eight goalies to dress for the Sabres this season.

Knapp stopped six of seven shots, and the goal he allowed officially made him part of the Sabres’ lost season. David Krejci’s point blast bounced off the back boards, hit Knapp’s leg and went in the net.

“Jeez, I’ve watched so many Bruins games that I should have figured it was coming right back out,” Knapp said. “Unfortunate bounce. It’s tough to let in an early one in your first NHL game.”

Fortunately for the Sabres, the bad bounces and terrible luck will soon be over. Today is their last 2013-14 game.

“We couldn’t have turned it around no matter what,” Nolan said. “Sometimes a clean bill of health in the summertime and we'll go forward the next year.”

Leino moves closer to goal-less season as Sabres will scratch forward for penultimate game

By John Vogl

BOSTON -- The pain of a goal-less season is one day closer for Ville Leino.

The Sabres' much-maligned forward will be a healthy scratch for this afternoon's game in Boston. John Scott will replace Leino in the lineup.

Leino has played 57 games this season without finding the net. The Sabres' final game is Sunday at home against the New York Islanders.

Buffalo will set an NHL record when the puck drops in TD Garden. Connor Knapp will be the backup goaltender, becoming the ninth netminder this season.

"I’m setting records right away when I get in," said the 23-year-old, who is in the NHL for the first time. "It’s a crazy year, for sure, within the organization, but it’s given a lot of guys opportunities. It’s great just to be here and see what it’s like and how everyone conducts themselves. I’m pretty excited."

To hear from coach Ted Nolan and Knapp, click the audio files below.

Ted Nolan

Connor Knapp

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | [email protected]

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | [email protected]

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | [email protected]