Sabres still need improving, but are getting better

‘If you had to pick a day when the Buffalo Sabres started turning this season around, it would be November 26. That is when they beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 at HSBC Arena. Boston leads the Northeast Division by 14 points at this point in the season, so that victory is definitely worth noting. But there are a few reasons why that victory is worth noting.’

Kaleta to miss at least three weeks

‘Kaleta will wear a hard collar to stabilize his neck after being struck by Los Angeles Kings’ defenseman Denis Gauthier. “He can still work out and probably skate but his neck has to be immobilized,” Ruff said.’

Sabres work to halt third-period woes

‘The Sabres enter tonight’s rematch with the Capitals on a third-period swoon. They held late leads over Montreal, Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders, but all three rallied to force overtime. The Canadiens and Penguins won to deprive the Sabres of an extra point; winning in a shootout salvaged a dismal ending against the Isles.’

Sabres vs. Capitals

‘Ales Kotalik has five points in three games.’

Tuesday’s Washington Coverage

Washington (23-11-3) at Buffalo (17-14-5) (AP)

Ovechkin, Capitals hope to keep rolling (Sportsticker)

Washington Capitals (23-11-3) at Buffalo Sabres (17-14-5) (The Sports Network)

52 Pick-Up? Caps Hope So (WashingtonCaps.com)

Tuesday’s Portland Coverage

Vesce, Dakers help Sharks rebound (Worcester Telegram and Gazette)

Pirates not prepared for Worcester’s comeback (Maine Hockey Journal)

Sharks Get Revenge Over Pirates 3-2 (PortlandPirates.com)

Kids’ New Years Game Wednesday! (PortlandPirates.com)

Coach Dineen on WJAB (PortlandPirates.com)

Kaspar, Vesce Work Magic in 3-2 Topping of Pirates (SharksAHL.com)

Gaustad nears return

‘"I’m getting close," Gaustad said. It’s something where everybody has to discuss it and see what they say this [injury] is and go from there. I want to get back on the ice as quickly and safely as possible."’

The future arrives ahead of schedule

‘As the Buffalo Sabres’ top prospects, the three players were destined to make it to the NHL. Their talent is obvious, their resumes strong. But as first-year pros, it didn’t seem likely the trio would make it to the big time before the new year.’

Monday’s Portland Coverage

Pirates’ newcomers contribute in a hurry (Portland Press Herald)

Pirates pound Worcester (Worcester Telegram and Gazette)

Newcomers provide the Pirates a much-needed lift (Maine Hockey Journal)

Pirates Jump All Over Sharks 7-1 (PortlandPirates.com.com)

Arrrrggghh…Sharks fall 7-1 in Portland (SharksAHL.com)

Kennedy is home for the holidays

‘The Islanders nearly spoiled everything by taking advantage of the Sabres’ dismal showings in third periods. They entered the final 20 minutes with a lead for the third time in four games, and for the third time they couldn’t hold it. The Islanders scored twice in the final 1:34, including the tying goal by Chris Campoli with 2.0 seconds left.’

Sekera getting his chance to develop

‘"He’s getting better and better," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think we’ve seen glimpses of him offensively handling the puck and doing things with the puck, and I think that area can still be better. But defensively, I’ve liked his game, not that he hasn’t struggled at times. But offensively we still think there’s more."’

Sunday’s New York Coverage

Isles rally against Sabres, but lose in shootout (New York Newsday)

Guerin not ready to hang up his skates (New York Newsday)

Islanders Fight Back, Fall in SO (NewYorkIslanders.com)

Photo gallery (NewYorkIslanders.com)

Photo gallery (Sabres.com)

Photo gallery (Buffalo News)

Kotalik, Stafford lift Buffalo

‘“We have to play better,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “We got a little tight. They started pinching a lot and we didn’t handle it very well. Our passing and our execution coming up ice wasn’t very good, and it led to them controlling most of the play.”’

Sabres place C Gaustad on IR; recall LW Kennedy

‘Gaustad, placed on IR retroactive to Dec. 17, has missed four games since he was injured against New Jersey last week. He also missed the first nine games of the season because of a thumb injury that required surgery.’

Buffalo 4, NY Islanders 3 (SO)

‘New York made it a one-goal game on the power play with MacDonald on the bench for a 6-on-4. Bill Guerin sent a pass from the left side to the right where Comrie slammed it home with 1:34 to play. In the final moments of the game again with MacDonald on the bench, Okposo fought off a checker along the right circle and sent the puck to the slot for Campoli, who snapped a wrister into the right corner of the net with two seconds left in regulation.’