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Friday, February 22, 2013
Need to know: Historic night for Sabres

By Katie Strang


• It was a historic night for the Sabres -- Thursday's game was the first in 16 years without Lindy Ruff behind the bench -- but not even the jolt of dismissing the team’s long-tenured coach was enough to get Buffalo past the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dropping the first game of Ron Rolston’s tenure as interim coach 3-1, the Sabres still appear to be a team very much in disarray. As ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reported, the disappointing loss -- Buffalo’s third straight -- prompted a players-only meeting after the game. Goaltender Ryan Miller was once again impressive in turning away 33 shots, but a lackluster second period rife with mistakes left the Sabres trailing by a goal and they never recovered. The Sabres are now a mere two points ahead of the lowly Washington Capitals for last in the Eastern Conference.

• It’s hard to argue that any team has had a more harrowing stretch of injuries this season than the Ottawa Senators, and their luck did not improve Thursday night. Already without defending Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson (Achilles) for the season and first-line center Jason Spezza (back) for much of the balance, the Senators saw goaltender Craig Anderson exit in the third period of Thursday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Rangers at Scotiabank Place with an ankle sprain. Although Anderson is listed as day-to-day, any chunk of time without his presence in net is sure to be costly for Ottawa. The 31-year-old Anderson, who boasts an 8-4-2 record and a league-leading 1.49 GAA and .952 save percentage, is one of the biggest reasons the Senators have been able to sustain the loss of two of the team’s stars. Credit Ben Bishop for standing tall and securing a win in relief during a lengthy shootout in which Kaspars Daugavins scored the winner in the seventh round.

• Another alarming injury note: Blue Jackets forward Artem Anisimov was taken off the ice on a stretcher with his head and neck immobilized in the second period of Columbus' 3-2 win over Detroit. Acquired by Columbus in the blockbuster Rick Nash deal this summer, Anisimov was battling behind the net for the puck when he lost his balance and caught an errant forearm from Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey that sent him to the ice headfirst. According to the team, Anisimov never lost consciousness although he was taken to a local hospital for evaluation as a precaution. The Blue Jackets said he would remain in the hospital overnight before returning to Columbus. The 24-year-old Anisimov had just returned to the Blue Jackets after missing two games with a foot injury. Quincey was not penalized on the play.

• The Florida Panthers snapped a five-game winless skid thanks to rookie forward Jonathan Huberdeau’s four-point night. Huberdeau tallied twice and added two assists as the Panthers beat up on the Flyers 5-2 in Philly. Huberdeau must have a soft spot for the City of Brotherly Love because the 19-year-old wreaked havoc against the Flyers the last time he was in town: Two weeks earlier, Huberdeau scored the game winner in the shootout against the Flyers. One of Huberdeau’s two goals came on the penalty shot; he made a nifty move to his backhand that sent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to his seat in the crease. The latter was pulled in the second period after giving up four goals on 15 shots.

• The Vancouver Canucks stopped the bleeding with a 4-3 road win over the Dallas Stars. Halting a three-game skid, Vancouver powered past the Stars with two goals in the third period. With the game tied early in the final frame, Jason Garrison gave the Canucks the go-ahead goal with his slap shot from the point at 2:32 and Henrik Sedin extended the lead less than two minutes later, converting on an odd-man rush. Dallas’ Brenden Morrow whittled the Canucks lead to one goal with an unassisted goal at 6:07 of the third, but Vancouver held on the rest of the way as Stars rookie goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp fell to 0-3-0.