Matt Ellis’ weekend took him from the Frozen Frontier to the Frozen Offense.
The veteran forward made the quick jaunt down the Thruway to join the Buffalo Sabres for Saturday’s game against the Calgary Flames after being recalled from the Rochester Amerks.
The 32-year-old Rochester captain scored the shooting-deciding goal in Friday’s 5-4 outdoor win over Lake Erie in Frontier Field, and then found out he was coming to Buffalo in case Cody Hodgson couldn’t play Saturday.
Hodgson took the warmup but didn’t play and Ellis stepped in for 8 minutes, 43 seconds of the Sabres’ 2-1 overtime loss to Calgary. Most of that was spent on a line with Ville Leino and Matt D’Agostini.
“I thought Matty played well for us, especially coming from a game last night and coming in here,” said interim coach Ted Nolan, who attended the game in Rochester. “He’s a smart player. He did what was asked of him. He competed hard and made some nice plays.”
Ellis has played parts of the last five seasons with the Sabres, including 72 games for Buffalo’s 2010 Northeast Division champions. He admitted it’s been tough to watch the Sabres’ dismal season from afar.
“I have a personal connection to most of the guys in this locker room, to the staff and to this community,” Ellis said. “This is the community I still call home and I’m definitely connected. It’s been a unique year to say the least.
“You talk to guys, hear the ins and outs and it has been hard to watch and know what some of my close friends have had to go through this season.”
Ellis showed no ill effects from playing an afternoon game after the long outdoor game that ended after 10 p.m. the previous night.
“I’ve got plenty of energy if need be,” he said. “I would have played at 10 o’clock this morning if I had the chance to.”
As for Hodgson, Nolan said the Sabres will try to get him ready for Tuesday’s visit by the Winnipeg Jets.
“He was pretty close,” Nolan said. “Playing this game at 100 percent is tough enough so we’re going to wait until he’s healthy.”
The Sabres also made Luke Adam and Mark Pysyk healthy scratches, with Brayden McNabb returning to the lineup. They didn’t need to create a roster spot for Ellis because Mikhail Grigorenko is on loan to Team Russia for the World Junior Championships.
Cody McCormick played just 1:55 in the game, leaving for good with an upper-body injury that was apparently suffered on a 36-second shift in the second period. Nolan had no update on McCormick’s status.
John Scott played just three shifts totaling 90 seconds and didn’t play after taking an interference penalty at 7:53 of the first period as he chased down Calgary defenseman Shane O’Brien, who had dumped him in the Flames’ zone a few seconds earlier.
It was Scott’s third minor penalty in the last two games. Marcus Foligno played just one shift in the third period and OT after drawing three minor penalties.
Said Nolan: “You don’t mind penalties but once they start getting lazy and you start grabbing people and cross-checking people for no reason, you’re better off not playing.”
The Flames had a goal wiped out with 18 seconds left in the first period because they had too many men on the ice. With Jiri Hudler in the penalty box, a delayed penalty was called on Buffalo’s Marcus Foligno and goaltender Karri Ramo went to the bench for an extra attacker.
One problem: Two Calgary players jumped on the ice, giving the Flames six skaters when they were only entitled to five because they were short-handed.
Cracked Calgary coach Bob Hartley: “We tried to get two dollars for a loony.”
Numerology on the Sabres’ loss:
• It’s 17 times in 33 games the Sabres have been shut out or held to one goal.
• The Sabres fell to 1-3 in overtime game-winners this season and below .500 all-time in them at 95-96.
• Sabres captain Steve Ott played a career-high 25:15 in the game, including 7:13 of special teams time. Ott had three hits but no shot attempts and has gone 12 games without a goal.
• Buffalo’s third-period goal by Matt Moulson marked just the sixth time in 33 games the Sabres have scored first this season. Incredibly, the Sabres have not won any of those games, going 0-4-2.
• The Sabres have three goals on 104 shots on goal over the last three games, an absurdly low 2.88 shooting percentage.
The Flames snapped an eight-game losing streak in Buffalo, winning for the first time here since a 3-1 triumph in Memorial Auditorium on March 15, 1996. … West Seneca native Lee Stempniak played 18:52 and had four shots on goal for Calgary. … The Sabres will be off today and most of the players will be attending goaltender Ryan Miller’s annual Catwalk for Charity event at Town Ballroom, which has a circus theme and is dubbed “Cirque du Sabres.”