By JOHN WAWROW
AP Hockey Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Zemgus Girgensons and the Buffalo Sabres were unmistakably upbeat in closing a season the team set an NHL record by missing the playoffs for an 11th consecutive season. The reason for optimism is how a young and rebuilding roster began showing signs of gelling during a late-season surge in which Buffalo won 16 of its final 28 games to match the number of wins it had through the first 54 games of the season. The turnaround followed a tumultuous year in which the Sabres purged their roster in a series of deals capped by trading former captain Jack Eichel to Vegas.