BUFFALO — Cody McCormick said he hasn’t “put a stopwatch” on his marathon goal drought, which hit 60 games Friday in the Sabres’ 3-2 shootout win over the Dallas Stars. The gritty winger wasn’t aware he had reached a career-long dry spell.
Of course, McCormick, the Sabres’ top fighter, isn’t a big scorer. He potted a career-high eight last season, though, and he possesses good hands and the ability to play with anyone.
But McCormick hasn’t scored a regular-season goal since Feb. 25 (he did tally once in the postseason). The goal-starved Sabres desperately need some offense from the 28-year-old, who once went 57 games without scoring.
“You’re never happy not to have a goal,” McCormick said Friday morning inside the First Niagara Center. “ … I think when I get one I’ll get a couple more and confidence will be there.”
He added: “It’s not like I’m sitting around here moping about it. You can’t do that.”
Hours later, McCormick left the game early in the second period (upper body), his second injury this season. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said McCormick’s out tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The early-season concussion that cost McCormick 10 games has slowed him a bit.
“I’m surprised,” Ruff said about McCormick having zero goals in 38 contests this season. “Part of it was getting a little dinged up earlier in the year. But he’s got good hands. I think we’ve seen that where he can move the puck and make good plays. He can finish. I think he’ll get some. He hasn’t.
“His struggles have been along the lines of some of our other players.”
McCormick, who has two assists and is a minus-7, has struggled in other areas, however. He even sat six times as healthy scratch in January, something he believes helped him.
He’s been better since returning, Ruff said. His ice time has gone from around five minutes a game to about nine recently.
“I think it’s just play away from the puck,” McCormick said. “A couple of us are playing good away from the puck.”
In the Sabres’ huge 6-0 triumph over Boston on Wednesday, McCormick fought tough guy Shawn Thornton early, setting a tone for the rough-and-tumble affair.
“I just think he’s skating a lot better, his compete is good,” Ruff said. “Him going after Thornton was a big move, sent a big message. It just sent a message we’re here to play at all costs. Hanging onto pucks and doing a good job with the puck has probably been a stronger point for him.”
On Friday, McCormick’s first-period roughing penalty led to Michael Ryder’s goal. McCormick played right wing with Matt Ellis and Thomas Vanek, who returned from a three-game absence (upper body).
Vanek played on other trios later. Ville Leino remained in Vanek’s old spot with Derek Roy and Jason Pominville.
With Vanek back, the Sabres scratched struggling rookie Luke Adam, who’s battling an epic slump.
Adam’s pointless in his last 20 games and has just a single goal and point in 25 contests. He has 10 goals and 20 points overall.
Could Adam be sent to Rochester?
“I think it’s a thought just to get him going, get him back on the score sheet,” Ruff said. “He’s definitely had his struggles. But it isn’t something we’ve discussed yet.”
The Sabres have sent Colin Stuart back to Rochester. The winger has been recovering from a torn MCL.