Sabres set to honor past, blaze new trail vs. Devils

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Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel plans to embrace the future and celebrate the past on Saturday.

Eichel and the upstart Sabres look to win their second straight game to start the young season on Saturday when they host the New Jersey Devils.

While the 22-year-old was held in check on Thursday, fellow forward Conor Sheary burned his former team with two goals as Buffalo posted a 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh.

“I think a lot of the guys in the room were pretty excited about it after the game,” Eichel told reporters after the club gave coach Ralph Krueger a victory in his Sabres coaching debut.

“I thought the way we played, it was the new brand of Sabres hockey.”

Now, the Sabres have plenty of other brands of hockey during their 50-year history, and 14 former team captains will be in attendance on Saturday as part of a pregame ceremony.

“It’s a really, really special moment just to put that into perspective and think about the franchise and obviously what an honor it is to be the captain of this franchise,” Eichel said.

“To think about the history and all the past captains, what it was like for them to wear the ‘C,’ and for me to carry on the tradition — it’s a complete honor. It’s really cool that the Sabres are doing this (on Saturday) and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Buffalo hasn’t looked forward to its recent meetings with New Jersey, however, losing two of three contests last season to fall to 3-8-1 in the last dozen matchups.

The Devils likely will venture to western New York in a foul mood after squandering an early four-goal lead in their 5-4 shootout loss to Winnipeg at home in their season opener on Friday.

Blake Coleman tallied twice over two games against the Sabres last season and matched that total versus the Jets on Friday, including an admittedly early bid for goal of the year.

Despite the circus shot that gave New Jersey a 4-0 lead, Coleman was not in the mood to talk about his highlight-reel goal after seeing the bottom fall out on his team.

“There’s no excuse,” Coleman told reporters. “It’s a game that stings, but it’s our own mistakes and something we can easily correct and I’m sure we will. Thankfully, we have a game (Saturday) so we don’t have to dwell on it.”

Cory Schneider’s availability is in question for that contest after he sustained an undisclosed injury in the third period. Schneider, who had hip surgery in May 2018, appeared to be in considerable pain before finally heading down the tunnel.

Coach John Hynes did not offer an update after the game on the condition of Schneider, who was replaced by MacKenzie Blackwood in the third period.

Russian rookie Nikita Gusev, who recorded 82 points in 62 Kontinental Hockey League contests last season, scored the Devils’ first goal of this campaign. He was also their lone player to convert in the shootout.

Jack Hughes, who was the top overall pick in this year’s draft, wasn’t as fortunate. He was denied in the extra session.

–Field Level Media

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