Hutton returns to practice on Monday

December 10, 2018 - 4:10 pm

The Buffalo Sabres returned to the ice for practice on Monday for the first time since Saturday's 6-2 blowout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at KeyBank Center.

On Sunday, the team held a meeting to address what went wrong on Saturday, and to talk things over on how they can learn from the loss and be better as a group. Saturday's loss to the Flyers was the Sabres' fifth consecutive loss after the team went on a 10-game winning streak to jump to the top of the standings.

After Jack Eichel had helped spring Buffalo to an early 2-0 lead in the first period, Philadelphia responded with six unanswered goals to send the Buffalo fans home disappointed with the outcome. Sabres goalie Carter Hutton is hoping that a loss like this one will be a wake up call for the team.

"We'll have to see how we bounce back here, but I think in this room, we communicated what was wrong there," Hutton said following practice on Monday. "We've taken so much pride in playing well at home here and creating a tougher atmosphere to play in. To play like that on a Saturday in front of a packed house is obviously disappointing, but we have to move on. It is what is is. In that sense, I think we just to re-collect ourselves. We're a younger team here, so the older guys have to really take control here and communicate what we need to do better."

Hutton was back on the ice for the Sabres on Monday after sitting out of Saturday's game with an upper-body injury. The 32-year-old netminder suffered the injury last Monday when the team was in Nashville to face the Predators, but it didn't start to flare up until Thursday when he was originally given a maintenance day by head coach Phil Housley. When he was unable to practice on Friday, the Sabres went forward and called up Scott Wedgewood from the Rochester Americans to backup Linus Ullmark in goal.

All three goalies were on the ice for the Sabres on Monday, but there is no telling yet whether or not Hutton will be ready to dress on Tuesday when the Los Angeles Kings make their only trip to Buffalo this season.

"We're going to see how [things go]," Hutton said. "The skate went well today, and that's all. Right now we're going to go with that. We'll see how tonight goes."

"It's good to see him back on the ice," Housley said of his veteran goalie. "He looked very good. We'll talk to the trainers after today and see where he's at tomorrow.

"It was good to see him back battling and he looked like his old self back there. I'm sure he was glad to be back on the ice after this little stint, but again, we'll have to see how he reacts after today and we'll see tomorrow."

Even though the Sabres continue to struggle to create offense, the lines did not change for the Sabres on Monday. Here's how they looked:

Skinner - Eichel - Reinhart

Sheary - Mittelstadt - Okposo

Thompson - Sobotka - Pominville

Rodrigues - Larsson - Girgensons


Dahlin - Bogosian

Pilut - Ristolainen

Beaulieu - Tennyson

Hunwick - Elie

Patrik Berglund was working in on the fourth line and swapping in and out with Zemgus Girgensons and Johan Larsson.

Depth scoring has been an issue for the Sabres lately as Jack Eichel's line has been the line primarily scoring for the team. In the five-game losing streak, his line has scored nine of the 11 goals that came at even strength. Housley understands that the depth scoring has not been there for the Sabres, but he knows that if the team plays better without the puck, the offense will eventually come naturally to his squad.

"It's been difficult," Housley said. "We've sort of rode Jack's line for a while here. I think they've scored 10 of the last 12 goals. Obviously these guys want to contribute and be a bigger part and sometimes it doesn't happen. If we continue to check and play away from the puck better, I think they'll have opportunities with it. I think we got away from that last game. Obviously we'd like to get contributions from a lot of guys, but again, I talk about getting to Zone 1 and keeping the game simple. If we can get there more often, things are going to happen. Kyle [Okposo] had a lot of good looks the last game, [Jason Pominville] is obviously a scorer that wants to contribute along with our other players. We can't squeeze our sticks, we have to play without the puck so when we do have it, we'll have an opportunity to attack."

Housley did alter with the power play units at practice on Monday. Here is how the units looked:

PP1: Skinner - Eichel - Reinhart / Dahlin - Ristolainen

PP2: Sheary - Rodrigues - Okposo / Mittelstadt - Pilut

Tage Thompson was working in on the second unit as well, switching in and out with Casey Mittelstadt.

The Sabres will return to the ice for Tuesday's morning skate at around 10:30 a.m. Faceoff with the Kings on Tuesday is set for 7 p.m.

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