Sabres' Nelson didn't see Eichel get hit

Buffalo will look to sweep the season series with the Penguins

Paul Hamilton
March 14, 2019 - 12:15 pm

Photo: Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports


Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - With the injury to Zach Bogosian, Casey Nelson will be back in the lineup against Pittsburgh. After the Colorado game, Nelson took heavy criticism for his non-response after Nikita Zadorov hit Jack Eichel in the neck after the whistle. Nelson is sick about the whole thing because at the time, he wasn’t in position to see what had happened, “I feel totally different after I saw the hit because I didn’t know he got hit in the head. I don’t have the seven camera angles so I was the only one directly behind him and I didn’t actually see he got hit in the head.

“I didn’t sleep that night after I saw the video and that’s pretty much all I’ve thought about the last number of days and there’s not a lot I can do about it, but I can tell you my response wouldn’t have been the same if I knew he got hit in the head. It sucks, but there’s not a lot I can do.”

Phil Housley said he talked to Nelson about that incident, but that’s not why he sat against Dallas. It was more about his play for two games.

There are a few things that Housley has told Nelson that he’d like to see. Nelson said, “It’s just keep that energy up, have positivity and help guys on the bench and on the ice in support.”

Nelson seems very good at keeping himself ready when he’s not playing. He said, “Obviously you want to be out there, it’s all mind games and you’ve just got to stick to your positive guns and just keep working every day, that’s all you can do, that’s all you can control is your work and your attitude.”

Housley said Nelson is very effective when he’s on his game, “He was out more because of his play.

“It’s aggressive play, getting a pin, killing a cycle, I just didn’t see the urgency in some of his puck decisions and I didn’t see him attacking the game trying up ice and making a difference.

“It’s good for him to get back in the lineup and when he’s at the top of his game, I like his game, he moves the puck well, the first pass is a good pass option, it’s flat. In transition he’s picking his targets and he does have a unique ability in the offensive zone to find lanes.”

One bright light for the Sabres this season is they’re two-for-two against the Penguins this season. In Pittsburgh, Buffalo overcame a 4-1 second period deficit and won in overtime. In Buffalo, Conor Sheary beat his old team in overtime after Brandon Montour had tied the game with 2:32 left in regulation. That was Buffalo’s last win as they’ve lost five in a row and haven’t scored a goal in over 137 minutes. The Sabres look to sweep the season series against Pittsburgh for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

Thursday is the final game of Jack Eichel’s two-game suspension. The morning skate was extremely optional, but in Wednesday's practice, Housley put together a kid line of Casey Mittelstadt, Tage Thompson and Alex Nylander. At 21, Thompson is the oldest one on the line by four months.

Zemgus Girgensons will miss his second straight game as a healthy scratch.

Carter Hutton gets the call in goal. Hutton only allowed two goals on 42 shots in Colorado, but the team in front of him played their worst game of the season. Hutton has only won one of his last eight decisions

Pittsburgh leads Carolina by two points for third place in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins are two in back of the Islanders and four behind Washington.

Since the loss to the Sabres, the Pens have won five-of-six games. They only have three regulation losses in 15 games.

Evgeni Malkin hit the 1,000-point mark in his career, but lately he’s been adding to the offense with assists. He has one goal in seven games, but has picked up five assists in that time.

Jake Guentzel is up to 35 goals this season, including seven goals in eight games.

Sidney Crosby is a big reason why the Penguins have straightened things out. He has 10 goals and 19 assists for 29 points in 16 games.

Matt Murray has played nine straight games in net. He’s given up 11 goals in his last six games.

The Sabres' penalty kill will be tested against the Penguins. Pittsburgh has a power play goal in six out of seven games. They’re three for their last nine.

Join Schopp and the Bulldog for the pre-game starting at 6:00 live from (716) Food and Sport when they’ll be joined by Phil Housley, Rasmus Dahlin and Casey Nelson.

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