Burroughs, Askren to face off in charity wrestling match

By The Associated Press undefined
NEW YORK (AP) — Five-time world champion Jordan Burroughs will wrestle mixed martial arts star Ben Askren in a charity match next month.
Burroughs and Askren, a 2008 Olympic wrestler, will face off for the first time in Madison Square Garden on May 6 to headline the 10th annual “Grapple at the Garden” event to support inner city wrestling.
Burroughs won the 74-kilogram world title in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2017 in addition to an Olympic gold medal seven years ago in London.
Askren, a former two-time national champion for the University of Missouri, has won his first 19 MMA matches — most recently at UFC 235 in March.

Jeff Skinner won’t rush decision on re-signing with Sabres

By JOHN WAWROW AP Hockey Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — As much as he enjoyed his season with the Sabres, forward Jeff Skinner isn’t going to rush into deciding whether to re-sign with Buffalo or pursue free agency following a career-best 40-goal year.
“No, I haven’t made any decisions. It’s a big decision, and it deserves a lot of thought, a lot of reflection on both parts, I think,” Skinner said Monday, when Sabres players cleaned out their lockers two days after closing the season by missing the playoffs for an eighth consecutive year.
“It’s going to take some time and it’s not going to happen in the first couple of days,” he added. “But yeah, to answer your question, I like it here, I love it here. I like the guys. I like the city and I had a great time.”
The question, as it was when Buffalo acquired Skinner in a trade with Carolina in August, is whether the two sides can reach an agreement on a new deal before the ninth-year player is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
They have been in talks since January, with both sides saying negotiations are still ongoing.
Aside from searching for a new coach after Phil Housley was fired on Sunday, re-signing Skinner is considered the Sabres’ top offseason priority in the team’s rebuilding plans and bid to appease a frustrated fan base. Buffalo finished 27th in the overall standings and closed the season winning just 16 of its final 57 games.
General manager Jason Botterill on Sunday said there remains what he called “a 100% chance” of Buffalo re-signing Skinner.
“I can understand where fans are coming from. He’s a fun player. He’s an entertaining player,” Botterill said. “I think the relationship for both sides, for the player and the team, has been a positive one. That’s why we’re trying to find a resolution.”
Skinner became Buffalo’s first player to score 40 goals since Thomas Vanek in 2008-09, and he finished third on the team with a career-high-matching 63 points in 82 games.
He was particularly productive when playing on Buffalo’s top line centered by Jack Eichel. The two combined for 68 of the Sabres’ 226 goals this season.
Eichel would love to have his linemate back, while acknowledging the decision is up to Skinner.
“The nature of the business is Jeff Skinner has to, at this time, worry about Jeff Skinner,” Eichel said.
“Obviously, we love Skins. I love Skins,” he added. “I mean, we want him in this room just as much as you guys do. He’s really close with the guys. He adds a great dynamic to our team.”
Skinner enjoyed playing in Buffalo in part because it’s closer to his hometown of Toronto. That allowed family and friends to watch him play more frequently by making the two-hour drive to Buffalo as opposed to flying to Raleigh, North Carolina.
On the downside, Skinner has yet to make the playoffs in nine seasons, since being drafted in the first round by Carolina in 2010.
“It’s tough to really put a firm percentage on it. I think for me, I want to win,” Skinner said when asked how much making the playoffs factors into his decision.
And yet, Skinner went on to mention how much he believes the Sabres are headed in the right direction and spoke of how much he wants to help the team next year.
Skinner played down how often he has included himself when referring to the Sabres beyond this season.
“I’m a Sabre. I feel any interview I go through during the season, I think it’s a ‘we.’ That’s just the way it is,” he told The Associated Press.
“I mean, I don’t think it changes,” Skinner said, referring to his pending decision. “It needs to be given the thought it deserves, the reflection it deserves. And that’s what we’ll do going forward.”
NOTE: Two people with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that former Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan is a candidate to replace Housley. The people, who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the Sabres are not releasing details of their search, said there is no timetable on how long it will take for Buffalo to complete the process.
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4 international players added to NFL rosters for 2019 season

By The Associated Press undefined
The NFL announced Monday that each team in the AFC East will carry an additional overseas player on its practice squad as part of an expansion of the International Player Pathway program.
Valentine Holmes, a former professional rugby player in Australia, will join the New York Jets.
Jakob Johnson, a former University of Tennessee tight end and German Football League player, will join the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
Durval Queiroz Neto, who played football in Brazil, will join the Miami Dolphins, and former England national rugby player Christian Wade will join the Buffalo Bills.
The AFC East clubs will carry the overseas players on their rosters until the end of training camp. At that time, the players will become eligible for an international player practice squad exemption. That means the teams would get an 11th practice squad player who is ineligible to be activated during the 2019 season.
The AFC East was chosen to receive the international players in a random draw.
The International Player Pathway Program was instituted in 2017 and aims to provide international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills, and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster.
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Buffalo Sabres fire coach Phil Housley after 2 seasons

By JOHN WAWROW AP Hockey Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Sabres’ dreadful second-half free-fall left general manager Jason Botterill no choice but to fire coach Phil Housley after his second year on the job.
“Today certainly wasn’t an easy day, but the results in the second half were just not there. We were very inconsistent,” Botterill said Sunday, shortly after informing Housley he had been fired. “Our fans expect more. We expect more. In the end, I thought this decision had to be made for our organization to move forward.”
Though Botterill said the blame for Buffalo’s collapse deserved to be shared among the players and himself, he added it became evident the team was not responding to Housley.
“Unfortunately, the message wasn’t getting through,” Botterill said.
Buffalo went from matching a franchise record in winning 10 straight and briefly sitting alone in first in the overall standings in late November, to closing the season winning 16 of its final 57 games and finishing 27th.
As a result, Buffalo joined the 2016-17 Philadelphia Flyers in becoming the second of 50 NHL teams to miss the playoffs in the same season they won at least 10 straight games.
Botterill reached his decision to fire Housley a day after a season-ending 7-1 win at Detroit, and informed owners Terry and Kim Pegula of his recommendation during a meeting in Buffalo.
Housley said before the game in Detroit that he expected to return as coach.
The Pegulas released a statement through the team backing Botterill.
“We know Jason is operating in the best interests of the organization both short- and long-term,” the Pegulas said. “We are confident we share the same vision of bringing winning hockey back to Buffalo.”
The Sabres now open a search to hire their fifth coach in six years since Lindy Ruff was fired amid the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
The 55-year-old Housley is a Hall of Fame defenseman who spent his first eight NHL seasons playing in Buffalo but failed to restore any semblance of success to a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff round since reaching the East finals in 2007.
Buffalo extended its playoff drought to eight seasons, which now stands as the NHL’s longest active streak after Carolina qualified for the postseason this year.
Overall, Housley finished with a 58-84-22 record in Buffalo.
Asked recently how much the string of losses was wearing on him, Housley responded: “It’s frustrating. I understand the fans’ frustration. Guys are frustrated. …. It’s always difficult when you don’t get the results.”
The Sabres’ victory at Detroit ended a 0-12-2 road skid, which matched the second-longest in franchise history.
But Housley’s fate was essentially sealed during a 0-6-1 skid in early March during which Buffalo was shut out in three consecutive games.
The slump began a little over a week after Botterill backed Housley by saying the team had made progress and added: “There’s not going to be a coaching change.”
Botterill acknowledged he ultimately changed his mind by watching his team commit too many familiar defensive lapses.
“At the end of the day, this is a result-driven business, and we didn’t get the results,” he said.
Housley replaced Dan Bylsma, who was fired along with general manager Tim Murray in April 2016, after Terry Pegula complained the team lacked discipline, structure and communication.
Much is still lacking in Buffalo despite the presence of two key building blocks in captain Jack Eichel and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, the first player selected in last year’s draft.
Housley essentially ran out of answers after referring to the Sabres as being “soft” while closing a seven-game homestand with a 3-3-1 record following a 6-2 to loss to the New York Rangers on Feb. 15. The Sabres lacked secondary scoring beyond Eichel and Jeff Skinner.
Eichel defended Housley before Buffalo’s game in Detroit.
“He’s not the one playing the games for us. He’s not competing. It’s tough to pin it all on him or to point the finger at him. We need to be better for this to work,” Eichel said. “We had a lot of ups and downs. We were good early, but the last couple of months we lost our swagger a bit.”
Housley’s first season was also a bust. He oversaw a high-priced and underachieving team that became the league’s first to finish 31st in the standings, following the addition of expansion Vegas.
Housley’s largest failure was an inability to have the Sabres adapt to playing the creative, high-tempo style that relied on defensemen in jumping into the rush. It’s a system he helped develop during his previous four seasons in Nashville, where Housley was responsible for overseeing a Predators defense that included P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis.
Housley broke in with the Sabres as an 18-year-old after being selected with the sixth pick in the 1982 draft. He played for seven other teams, including Toronto, before ending his 21-year career by playing one game for Toronto near the end of the 2002-03 season.
Housley, who is from St. Paul, Minnesota, finished with 338 goals and 894 assists for 1,232 points in 1,495 career games. He ranks 39th among all players in points, fourth among defensemen and first among U.S.-born defenseman.
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AP Hockey Writer Larry Lage in Detroit contributed.
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Emotional Pominville seals Sabres’ 5-2 win over Senators

By JOHN WAWROW AP Hockey Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Sabres forward Jason Pominville began the day unable to contain his emotions by choking up when coming to the realization he might be playing his final home game in Buffalo.
The 36-year-old ended the day fist-pumping a crowd that provided the fan favorite a standing ovation shortly after he scored to seal a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
“Yeah, what a way to end it,” Pominville said. “I left probably in tears and came back with a smile.”
Pominville’s goal punctuated the Sabres’ “Fan Appreciation Night” in which Buffalo closed its home schedule by snapping an eight-game skid and winning for just the second time in its past 17 games (2-13-2).
Pominville is in his second stint with the Sabres, and uncertain about his future in finishing out the final year of his contract.
“I’ve really enjoyed every moment,” he said, with his voice cracking once again. “We obviously haven’t played the way we wanted. And finally to give the fans a win. They showed up. They were loud. They were good. It was a lot of fun.”
Captain Jack Eichel had a goal and two assists and Kyle Okposo, Sam Reinhart and rookie Victor Olofsson also scored in a game between two non-playoff contenders. Carter Hutton stopped 21 shots and the Sabres overcame a 2-1 first-period deficit.
The victory and the rousing cheers reserved for Pominville, who took a turn at center ice during a commercial break, briefly put a dent in the frustrations of a lengthy freefall in which Buffalo extended its playoff drought to eight seasons.
The drought that now stands as the NHL’s longest active streak after Carolina defeated New Jersey and clinched its first postseason berth in nine years.
Eichel was defiant in blaming the media for being too negative.
“I think you guys tend to look at a lot of negatives frequently, myself probably included with some of the interviews we’ve had in the past month or so,” Eichel said.
“There’s been some exciting nights in this rink this year, for sure, probably a lot more than there were a year ago,” he added. “I think if you look at a couple positives, that’s probably one of them.”
Buffalo finished with 21 home wins, 10 more than last year, and the most since going 21-12-8 in 2011-12.
And yet, there remain plenty of negatives for a team that closes its season at Detroit on Saturday.
The win was Buffalo’s first in regulation since a 5-2 victory over Washington on Feb. 23. And the Sabres improved to just 15-33-8 since enjoying a franchise-record matching 10-game win streak in November.
Anthony Duclair and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored for the Senators, who were already assured of finishing last in the overall standings.
Coming off a 4-1 win at the New York Rangers, Ottawa closed its road schedule with an 11-28-2 record to mark the franchise’s fewest wins since going 10-31 in 1995-96.
“We’re not going to make excuses. We’re pros and have to be ready for back to backs,” Senators rookie Brady Tkachuk said.
“They played a great game, the last game in front of their fans this year and they wanted to leave it all out there for them,” he added, referring to Buffalo. “We’ve just got to learn from it and use it for our last home game.”
Joey Daccord stopped 35 shots in his NHL debut.
The 22-year-old got the start three days after signing a two-year entry level contract and after he helped Arizona State make its first NCAA Tournament appearance this season. The Sun Devils’ season ended with a 2-1 loss to Quinnipiac in the first round Saturday.
Okposo tied it at 2 at the 6:12 mark of the second period when Conor Sheary’s shot from the left circle struck the skate of Ottawa defenseman Christian Jaros. The puck caromed directly to Okposo, who shot it into the open right side 6:12 into the period.
Reinhart scored a little over two minutes later. Eichel chased down a loose puck at the end boards and made a no-look backhand pass in front to Reinhart, whose one-timer beat Daccord on the glove side.
The 3-2 lead was Buffalo’s first in seven games, since Reinhart scored the opening goal in the first period of a 7-4 loss at Montreal on March 23.
NOTES: The goal was also Pominville’s 217th with the Sabres, moving him into 10th place on the franchise list — one ahead of Don Luce. … Daccord is from North Andover, Massachusetts, and spent most of his youth playing on teams with Eichel, who is from North Chelmsford. … Senators RW Bobby Ryan did not play a night after being struck by a shot at New York.
UP NEXT
Senators: Close season hosting Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
Sabres: Close season at Red Wings on Saturday.
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Jets unveil new uniforms, tweaked logo

By DENIS P. GORMAN Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Jamal Adams believes this is the dawning of a new era for the New York Jets.
There’s a new coach in Adam Gase. They’ve got a handful of new players, including star running back Le’Veon Bell. And, now, the Jets have a new look on the field.
The team unveiled revamped uniforms and a tweaked team logo at an event in midtown Manhattan on Thursday night. It marks the first time the franchise has rebranded its uniforms, apparel and merchandise since 1998.
“I love them, man,” said Adams, the Pro Bowl safety who joined quarterback Sam Darnold, wide receivers Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, tight end Chris Herndon, defensive lineman Leonard Williams and linebacker Avery Williamson in modeling the new threads on a stage at Gotham Hall.
“New energy,” Adams added. “New era.”
The uniforms will feature combinations of a unique shade of green called “Gotham Green” — a change from the team’s familiar hunter green — and “Spotlight White,” along with “Stealth Black” that’s featured in an alternative uniform the team can wear up to three times in a season. The jerseys also feature “New York” in small letters across the chest and above the players’ numbers.
The shiny helmet is all green, replacing the white headgear the players wore the last 20 years. The refreshed logo features the letters “JETS” in white, with a white football under it.
It’s all part of a team-wide rebranding through a process that began in 2014, with the Jets working closely with the NFL and Nike. The new colors and logo will be plastered all over their facility in Florham Park, New Jersey, as well as throughout MetLife Stadium for home games. There will also be modifications made to the end zones and walling inside the stadium, along with video graphics.
“This was a process that underwent a variety of prototyping and design work to ensure a flawless finish,” team president Neil Glat said in a statement. “We took great pride in ensuring that every detail — big or small — was correct and that our ownership’s vision was implemented.”
Jets owner Christopher Johnson was all smiles about his team’s new look, saying it was time to refresh things for the franchise.
“I think it came out pretty great,” Johnson said.
More than 400 fans were in attendance for the unveiling, which was hosted by comedian J.B. Smoove. Former Jets stars Joe Namath, Wayne Chrebet, Curtis Martin, Freeman McNeil, Marty Lyons and Nick Mangold were also there to see the new uniforms and logo, as were “Saturday Night Live” star Pete Davidson, and a small contingent of WWE stars.
It all capped what has been a busy offseason for the Jets.
Along with Bell, the Jets signed wide receiver Jamison Crowder, linebacker C.J. Mosley, cornerback Brian Poole and kicker Chandler Catanzaro, along with acquiring left guard Kelechi Osemele from Oakland. They also have the third overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft, and could target an edge rusher — still a need for the team — or general manager Mike Maccagnan could trade it for more selections.
“Our team really did a 360 (degree turn quickly),” Anderson said.
And he believes that the Jets, who finished 4-12 last season, could challenge the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots for first place in the AFC East this season.
“We’re not coming out there to lose,” Anderson said.
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Jets latest NFL team to tackle meticulous rebranding process

By DENNIS WASZAK Jr. AP Pro Football Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — New colors, a tweaked logo, flashy uniforms and fired-up fans and players.
The New York Jets are the latest NFL franchise to switch up their playbooks and call for a major rebranding, with the team’s revamped look unveiled Thursday night during a launch party at a midtown Manhattan ballroom.
“It’s just a different swagger, man,” safety Jamal Adams said. “It’s something that this team needed.”
Gone is the familiar hunter green and white combination that graced the Jets’ uniforms for the past 20 years, replaced by what the team calls “Gotham Green” and “Spotlight White.” There’s also a “Stealth Black” alternate uniform, along with a refreshed logo on all-green helmets.
“We wanted to create something that we think today’s fans and traditional fans will like, and something that the players will like,” team president Neil Glat told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “And we also kind of were looking for that gritty, resilient New York City-area look. So, you’re trying to accomplish a lot of different things.”
It’s a risky but potentially rewarding proposition with a thorough creative process — including lots of behind-the-scenes meetings, seemingly endless tweaks and plenty of opinions — that NFL teams, as well as franchises in other professional leagues, have attempted to varying degrees of success.
“The main reason teams do it is because fan interest has waned and you’re looking to do a restart,” said Marc Ganis, president of Sportscorp, a Chicago-based consulting firm, and an adviser to several team owners. “You’re looking to re-energize or restart the marketing and branding of the team.”
At least 10 NFL teams have tweaked their looks — Detroit, Minnesota, Miami, Cleveland — or redesigned their uniforms — Seattle, Jacksonville, Tennessee — since 2012, when Nike became the league’s official apparel provider.
“I think you can tell fairly quickly by the reaction of the fans and by the reaction of the media,” Ganis said of how long it typically takes for a team to know whether it has a success on its hands or a marketing dud. “And, you can tell by the reaction of the buyers for the stores. Are they buying a lot of merchandise because they are expecting big sales? Now, the problem with if you don’t have a winner, there’s not much you can really do about it.
“Decisions have been made. And, decisions have consequences.”
Just ask the NHL’s New York Islanders, whose “fisherman” logo replaced the traditional “NY” circular design before the 1995-96 season — but was absolutely despised by fans and was gone by the end of that season.
In the NFL, teams can’t pivot so quickly. They have to stick with their rebranded designs for five years before they can approach the league about changing uniforms and logos again.
“The reason we do that is to kind of help the consistency of the brand from a fan’s point of view,” said Chris Stackhouse, the NFL’s art director. “It gives every change that we make enough longevity to really see if it sticks and make sure it works. So when our clubs approach us, they know that when they’re making a change, it’s a big deal and they’re going to be locked into it for five years.”
Jacksonville found out the hard way in 2013, when it redesigned its uniforms and included helmets that featured a two-tone finish. The new look was never fully embraced by Jaguars fans and was widely mocked. So, last year, the team unveiled an updated “no-nonsense” look that was much better received.
Merchandise revenue in the NFL is, by and large, divided equally among all 32 teams. So, franchises that make changes aren’t necessarily doing it for money grabs to get new items online and on the shelves in retail marketplaces in hopes of direct financial gains.
“It’s not an issue of revenue,” Ganis said. “It’s an issue of interest.”
For the Jets, there was plenty of hype leading up to their first major uniform and logo changes since 1998. That included team CEO Christopher Johnson teasing the announcement during the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix last month by saying he thought the new uniforms were “bad-ass.”
There was rampant speculation on social media during the last several months with fan-crafted uniform mock-ups causing many to wonder if they were anywhere close to what would ultimately end up on the field.
“This is the first time the Jets are changing their brand and their how they communicate to fans in really a generation,” said James Carmichael, the NFL’s brand director. “So, it was really important to get this right. So you don’t want to rush that. You want to make sure you’re doing your due diligence exploring all your options to truly make sure that it fits who they are and who they want to be as a brand.”
The process for the Jets began in 2014, when owner Woody Johnson and brother Christopher kicked around the idea of refreshing the look of the franchise. That jumpstarted several conversations between the team, Nike and the NFL, which surveyed management, employees and fans.
“Doing that diligence really kind of brings all the important pieces to the surface,” Stackhouse said, “and helps my team really know how to kind of find that North Star creatively going forward.”
When considering redesigning merchandise and apparel, teams typically have to measure the delicate balance between maintaining their traditions while having an eye toward the future.
“We know that fans of these teams, their colors or logos, this stuff is on shirts and apparel that are handed down from father to son from generation to generation,” Stackhouse said. “These things mean a lot to people and we’re changing that. So we take it very seriously, but we have to take as much of a long view on this as we can.”
There was some early internal discussion in the Jets organization about making an extensive change to the team logo. Instead, the team decided on a refresh rather than an overhaul.
The uniforms, though, were set for a complete rebranding — from the style to the color. That process included a trip to downtown Manhattan for Stackhouse and his team to sift through bolts of fabrics after not quite getting into the end zone with the right shade of green.
“We needed to refresh the process and think differently,” Stackhouse said. “And sure enough, we brought back one and as soon as we rolled it out on the table, we, on our end, kind of looked at it and had a strong feeling that we knew it when we saw it. And when we brought it to Mr. Johnson and the rest of the ownership there, they felt the same way.”
Once a team gets the color nailed down and the logo is in development, Nike takes on an even bigger role by designing uniforms based on the concepts that have been collected.
Next comes the tweaks. And, lots of them.
Until, eventually, a team has its new look.
“It took time and a lot of iterations and a lot of good quality work by people in this building and at the NFL and at Nike,” Glat said. “And then even when you get close, then you have to start developing prototypes and you have to get the colors just right and you have to test it on the field and you have to test it with TV cameras, so it’s been a deliberate process.”
And, for the Jets, it comes at a time when change has swept through the franchise. There’s a new coach in Adam Gase , a free-agent prize in running back Le’Veon Bell and a promising quarterback heading into his second NFL season in Sam Darnold.
And, they’ll all be sporting a new look this season.
“Look, people feel better when they’re wearing cool clothes,” Ganis said. “That’s not just on the red carpet. That’s also on the football field.”
Winning or losing, however, will make for the ultimate fashion critic.
“If we don’t play well,” Darnold said, “the uniforms don’t look good.”
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Johansen lifts Predators to 3-2 win over slumping Sabres

By JOHN WAWROW AP Hockey Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne prefers the excitement of a tightly contested race for the Central Division title during the final week of the season.
“I’m actually happy that all these games matter and all these games have a lot of meaning,” Rinne said after the Predators stayed in the mix with a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night. “We have a lot on the table, and that’s the best part of it: It’s going to prepare us for the playoffs.”
Rinne made 26 saves and Ryan Johansen scored 6:32 into the third period to help the Predators improve to 6-2-1 in their past nine.
With 96 points, Nashville moved two ahead of idle St. Louis and into a tie for the division lead with Winnipeg after the Jets lost 5-1 at Minnesota.
On the line is home-ice advantage, which goes to the first- and second-place teams when the playoffs open next week.
“Within this locker room, we have goals and things we’re striving for, and it’s about continuing to move in the right direction,” Johansen said.
Johansen was in an ideal position at the right time in the third. Viktor Arvidsson’s shot from the right side caromed off the end boards and directly to Johansen, who backhanded the puck into the open side.
P.K. Subban added a goal and an assist for Nashville, and Craig Smith also scored.
Jeff Skinner got his career-best 38th goal and Kyle Okposo also scored for Buffalo, which dropped to 0-7-1 in its past eight. The skid is the Sabres’ longest since dropping 14 in a row from Dec. 29, 2014, to Jan. 30, 2015. Buffalo also dropped to 1-13-2 in its past 16.
Frustration is setting in for the Sabres, who complained they were on the wrong end of two key rulings.
Smith’s game-opening goal was allowed to stand when replays were inconclusive in showing whether his stick was too high when deflecting in Subban’s shot from the blue line.
Then there was a quick whistle that negated a goal for Buffalo’s Conor Sheary in the second period. The play was stopped while a delayed penalty was called against Nashville even though no Predators player appeared to have control of the puck.
Coach Phil Housley repeatedly said the Sabres got robbed on both calls.
He said the Sabres watched replays that clearly showed the puck hitting Smith’s stick. But he was more frustrated with Sheary’s disallowed goal.
“The call that’s sort of mind-boggling to me is the delayed penalty call,” he said. “The ref’s sitting right in the corner. It’s unfortunate.”
Carter Hutton finished with 32 saves.
“That’s kind of the way it’s been. When it’s not going well, it’s just not going well,” Okposo said. “But I liked the way that we responded.”
Buffalo eventually tied it at 2 when Skinner scored with 5 seconds left in the second. Skinner snapped an eight-game goal drought and scored for just the second time in his past 22.
Subban made an impressive play to put the Predators up 2-1 in the opening minute of the second period.
Sabres rookie defenseman Rasmus Dahlin skated through the neutral zone and attempted to flip the puck off the boards and into the Predators’ zone. Subban, however, batted the puck out the air to set himself up for a breakaway up the right wing. He then blasted a shot from the circle that beat Hutton inside the far post.
Subban defended Dahlin’s performance by noting he has made similar mistakes through his career.
“He’s what, 18? I’ve made way worse turnovers,” Subban said of Dahlin, the No. 1 overall selection in last year’s draft. “You can tell he’s going to be a stud in this league for a long time.”
NOTES: Predators LW Austin Watson returned for the first time since he was suspended by the NHL more than two months ago for alcohol abuse. Watson missed 27 games with Nashville and had four goals in two games during a conditioning stint with AHL Milwaukee before being recalled Sunday. … Sabres D Marco Scandella will miss the final week with a lower-body injury. … Buffalo has gone 20 consecutive periods without holding a lead, dating to Sam Reinhart scoring the opening goal in a 7-4 loss at Montreal on March 23.
UP NEXT
Predators: Host Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.
Sabres: Close home schedule against Ottawa Senators on Thursday.
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Bills sign Quinton Spain in latest offensive line addition

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills have agreed to sign guard Quinton Spain to a one-year contract in their effort to overhaul the offensive line.
The 27-year-old Spain spent his first four seasons with the Tennessee Titans, where he started 48 games at left guard. He signed with the Titans in 2015 as an undrafted rookie free agent out of West Virginia.
Spain agreed to the contract Wednesday.
He becomes the sixth offensive lineman Buffalo has added this offseason in a bid to upgrade what had been a patchwork unit. The line struggled last year after center Eric Wood and guard Richie Incognito unexpectedly retired.
Spain is expected to compete with newcomer Jon Feliciano and returning guard Wyatt Teller for the starting job.
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Bobrovsky stops 38 shots, Blue Jackets top Sabres 4-0

By JOHN WAWROW AP Hockey Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Don’t look now, but goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and the Columbus Blue Jackets are mounting yet another late-season surge to make the playoffs.
Bobrovsky stopped 38 shots to earn his third shutout in five games and league-leading ninth of the season, and the Blue Jackets won their fifth straight by beating the free-falling Buffalo Sabres 4-0 on Sunday night.
“Life pretty much forced us to be at our best because if you’re not there, you’re not going to make the playoffs,” said Bobrovsky, who has allowed just four goals on the past 138 shots he has faced over a five-game span.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s nice to have it,” he added when reminded he moved one shutout ahead of Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury. “But it’s most important (for) the team success.”
With 94 points, the Blue Jackets jumped into seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings, a point ahead of Carolina and two up on idle Montreal.
Columbus enters the final week of the season with an opportunity to secure its third consecutive playoff berth in a run similar to how the Blue Jackets closed last year by going 13-2-2.
Nick Foligno capped a three-goal first period and Pierre-Luc Dubois scored his 25th and added two assists. Oliver Bjorkstrand and Josh Anderson each had a goal for a Columbus team that has outscored its opponents by a combined 24-4 over its past five games.
The Sabres appeared lifeless in adding yet another dud to what has been a lengthy second-half collapse, and raised further questions as to whether the players have quit on second-year coach Phil Housley.
A large group of fans in the upper level — within earshot of where Sabres general manager Jason Botterill sits — began chanting “Fire Housley” during a break four minutes into the third period.
“It’s frustrating. I understand the fans’ frustration. Guys are frustrated,” Housley said. “It’s always difficult when you don’t get the results.”
Buffalo was coming off a 5-1 loss at the New York Islanders on Saturday, and dropped to 0-6-1 in its past seven and 1-12-1 over its past 14.
The slump actually began in late November after the Sabres briefly took over first place in the overall standings following a 10-game win streak. Buffalo has since gone 14-32-8 in a slide that has tumbled them into 27th overall.
“They have a right to be mad,” forward Kyle Okposo said of the fans. “Last night we were lifeless. Today it was a little bit better, but it was 4-0. It’s not good enough.”
Buffalo was shut out for the seventh time this season and fifth time in 12 outings.
Linus Ullmark made 32 saves in dropping to 0-6-1 in his past seven — a stretch during which he has allowed 25 goals.
Columbus, playing a night after a 5-2 win at Nashville, was being outshot 7-1 through the first 6:20, before closing the period by scoring three times on its next 12 shots.
Dubois opened the scoring 7:14 in, when Seth Jones’ shot from the right circle banked in off him and into the open left side.
Bjorkstrand scored 6 ½ minutes later by one-timing in Dubois’ pass into the high slot.
Foligno capped the run by drawing Ullmark away from the right post before circling behind the net and wrapping the puck in off the stick of Buffalo defenseman Brandon Montour with 2:13 left.
Foligno laughed off a question as to whether the Blue Jackets’ three-goal surge demoralized the Sabres.
“Oh yeah. Not to be rude, it’s not my worry,” Foligno said. “I’m not concerned about them. I just like the way we were playing. Our goal is to get into the playoffs.”
Bobrovsky wasn’t really tested until the third period, with his best stops coming eight minutes in. First, he got his blocker up to turn aside Montour’s shot from the right point, and Bobrovsky recovered in time to kick out his right pad in stopping Jeff Skinner attempting to convert the rebound in front.
NOTES: Blue Jackets improved their road record to 23-14-2 and matched the single-season franchise mark for road wins set in 2014-15, when they went 23-15-3. … Sabres D Jake McCabe returned after missing 13 games with a shoulder injury. … Blue Jackets have 246 goals, one short of matching franchise single-season record set in 2016-17.
UP NEXT
Blue Jackets: Seek to extend season-best five-game home winning streak in regular-season home finale against Boston on Tuesday.
Sabres: Host Nashville Predators on Tuesday.
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