Friday was a special one and, even better, the Buffalo Sabers pulled out a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators.
We have the full recap here.
Buffalo has points in eight straight games (5-0-3) and will look to make it nine in a row today against the Florida Panthers.
Rick Jeanneret, whose name was added to the rafters on Friday, will call today’s game along with Rob Ray.
Pregame coverage starts at 12:30 pm on MSG Faceoff is set for 1 pm on MSG and WGR 550. Tickets are on sale now.
Here’s what you need to know.
RJ Night highlights
There sure were plenty of them. Jeanneret’s name was added to the rafters on a banner alongside those of other Sabers legends on Friday.
Check out the full ceremony here:
Video: RJ Night: Full Banner Ceremony
The fun continued throughout the night with tributes and congratulatory messages from everyone from Wayne Gretzky to Jim Kelly to Pat LaFontaine to Ron MacLean to Rick’s family:
Video: Congratulations, Rick Jeanneret
And RJ was invited into the locker room after posing with the players for a photo on the ice and he was presented with the Player of the Game sword:
Video: Jeanneret sits in on victory speech on RJ Night
Click here for even more.
Video: PRACTICE REPORT
Conversations around RJ Night dominated post-practice talk on Saturday. We have more in the Practice Report:
Alex Tuch was celebrating near the Sabers’ bench when he heard a teammate shout: “Somebody grab RJ!”
So, with a bit of serendipity, the lifelong Sabers fan went and grabbed ahold of the legend. Tuch joined Cody Eakin in escorting Jeanneret onto the ice after their 4-3 win over the Predators, where the newest member of the KeyBank Center rafters was surrounded by players for a team photo.
“It was something that kind of just heat of the moment happened,” Tuch said. “I think it worked out perfectly, the whole team with the saluting of the sticks and all the fans and stuff. It was emotional. It was a lot of fun.”
The aura of an unforgettable night could still be felt inside KeyBank Center on Saturday, even as the Sabers turned their attention to a grueling stretch of seven games in 12 days that begins at home against the Florida Panthers on Sunday.
Sabers fans packed the arena 19,070 strong to celebrate Jeanneret’s banner being hung in the rafters and brought the noise from the pregame ceremony to the postgame salute.
Video: AFTER PRACTICE: Garnet
Video: AFTER PRACTICE: Tuch
Video: AFTER PRACTICE: Okpos
Okposo, in his sixth season with the Sabers, called it his favorite game in Buffalo.
“Fans were into it all night, doing the wave in the third,” he said. “Guys are looking around, guys got chills. They hadn’t seen it. I just looked at Cozey and said, ‘This is the National League.’ He was a rookie last year, no fans, and he hadn’t seen the building like that. So, it was pretty special. “
Meanwhile, coach Don Granato announced that Colin Miller has exited COVID-19 protocol, though the defenseman did not practice with the team.
Miller has missed four games since entering protocol on March 27.
Read more here.
Florida is red-hot. They lead the Atlantic Division with 100 points and are coming off a 7-6 overtime victory over the New Jersey Devils yesterday. The Panthers trailed 6-2 after 40 minutes, but scored four goals in the third period to tie it.
From @ SabersPR’s Game Notes for more on the matchup:
• This is the third of four meetings between the Sabers and Panthers this season.
• Last meeting: Florida defeated Buffalo 6-1 in Buffalo on March 7.
• Next meeting: Friday, April 8 in Florida.
• The Sabers are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games against the Panthers; 5-5-0 at home.
• This is the 106th all-time game between Buffalo and Florida; Buffalo has a 52-44-9 series record.
• The Sabers are 30-20-4 at home against the Panthers all-time.
• The Sabers enter tonight’s game with at least one point in each of their last eight contests (5-0-3) for the first time since the team won 10 games in a row from Nov. 8 to 27, 2018.
• The team also recorded a point in eight straight games (7-0-1) spanning two seasons. That streak included the last two games of 2018-19 and the fist six games of the 2019-20 season.
• The Sabers enter tonight’s game with at least one point in each of their last six home games (4-0-2, including the Heritage Classic, which was a home game played at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario) for the first time since the team won six home games in a row the last three home games of last season and the first three games of this season.
• The Sabers enter tonight’s game with at least a point in 10 of their last 11 contests overall (7-1-3).
Video: BUF @ NYR: Skinner ties it up on the front doorstep
• Jeff Skinner enters tonight’s game with seven points (4 + 3) in his last seven contests.
• Skinner has recorded at least one point in eight of his last 13 games against Florida dating back to the beginning of the 2016-17 season, totaling 12 points (9 + 3) in those contests. o Skinner has seven points (5 + 2) in eight games against Florida since joining the Sabers.
Video: NSH @ BUF: Olofsson one-times PPG for his 15th
• Victor Olofsson has five points (3 + 2) in his last three games and seven points (4 + 3) along with a plus-4 rating over his last seven contests.
• Alex Tuch has four points (1 + 3) in his last three games.
• Kyle Okposo has four points (2 + 2) in his last four games.
• Okposo has three assists in his last four games against the Panthers.
• Mattias Samuelsson has four assists and a plus-8 rating in his last 10 games, averaging 21:06 of ice time per game during that span.
• Since making his season debut on Jan. 17, Samuelsson ranks among the NHL’s rookie leaders in TOI / GP (9th, 19:23), SH TOI / GP (5th, 2:12), hits (T-6th, 66) and blocked shots (6th, 48).
• Samuelsson’s plus-8 rating in 10 games since March 10 tied him for first among NHL rookies and tied for ninth among all NHL skaters during that span entering play Saturday.
Video: NSH @ BUF: Krebs cleans up rebound to open scoring
• Dylan Cozens has four assists in his last three games, having recorded a pair of two-assist efforts during that stretch.
• Cozens tallied two points (1 + 1) in his first career game against the Panthers on Dec. 2.
• Rasmus Dahlin has six points (1 + 5) in his last seven games, having recorded three two-point efforts during that stretch.
• Dahlin has four assists in his last four games against the Panthers.
• Rasmus Asplund has recorded an assist in each of Buffalo’s two games against the Panthers this season.
• Vinnie Hinostroza has four points (3 + 1) in his last five games against the Panthers, including two goals in the matchup on Dec. 2.
• Casey Fitzgerald tallied an assist in his first career game against the Panthers on March 7.
• In three career games against Florida, Dustin Tokarski is 2-0-0 with a .965 save percentage and a 1.24 goals-against average.
• In 30 career games against Florida, Craig Anderson is 16-11-2 with .914 save percentage and three shutouts.
Today in Sabers history
Video: Sabers Hall of Fame: Gilbert Perreault
1982: Gilbert Perreault becomes the 16th NHL player ever to record 1,000 points in a 5-4 win against Montreal. Perreault, who finished his Sabers career with 1,326 points, remains the only player to record 1,000 points for the club.